The death of webOS was the chronicle of a death foretold, a still premature corpse from which there is still a remote possibility of getting something out. Don’t get me wrong: I loved webOS and whenever I had the chance I made it clear that in my opinion, it was the mobile operating system with the most interesting ideas per square centimeter. The blame for its recently announced abandonment does not lie with the excellent team of developers who shaped it, but with the lousy management of the HP directors, a company that now runs away with its tail between its legs from an industry that could have returned Palm to the top if it had shown more decision, commitment and drive.
Thus, one of the alternatives that HP is faced with in order to try to get some benefit from the work done is to try to license webOS to other manufacturers while converting Enyo into a web application platform compatible with virtually any smartphone and tablet with the only exception of Windows Phone 7, the only relevant mobile platform that does not use WebKit and for which “adjustments” would have to be made.
Will it be too late or will there still be a glimmer of hope in the future for webOS? Well, you certainly have options. No longer just as a tool for developers (which on the other hand already have a good number of frameworks that serve exactly the same function, developing web applications essentially indistinguishable from native ones) but as a possible competitor to Chrome OS and, to some extent, Windows 8 within the niche market of Netbooks.
The advantage of Enyo is that it is designed to create mobile applications using web standards while offering the flexibility to adjust to different screen sizes. Given that both Safari and Chrome use WebKit, it shouldn’t be difficult to make Enyo a platform on which to build sophisticated web applications that scale properly to work on any site, our phone, tablet and computer. It may be the last bullet they have left to fire.
On the other side of the street we have Microsoft, by coincidence of life the only one that would not benefit to some extent from this policy change, and precisely the one that has jumped to the fore offering webOS developers everything they need to migrate to Windows Phone, “including free phones, development tools and training” .
Maybe I’m a bit biased at this point but if you’re one of the webOS developers now orphaned and looking for other platforms on which to focus your efforts, probably the best alternative is not exactly Windows Phone but iOS or Android, the first by proven profitability and the second by gross numbers. Windows Phone (which I personally also like, and a lot) still has many things to prove.