Ina Fried

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HP’s Move Could Give webOS Needed Scale, Help Its PCs Stand Out

Among the nuggets in Leo Apotheker’s chat with Bloomberg Businessweek was the fact that HP plans to include Palm’s webOS on all PCs starting next year.

HP had already said it would put webOS on Windows PCs, but Apotheker’s comments give a time frame and make clear the depth of the commitment.

Including it on all PCs, along with many of HP’s printers, should help give the operating system some scale that the company would have a tough time getting in the short run by including it just on phones and tablets.

At the same time, if people take to webOS, it could help HP’s line of computers stand out from their Windows competition in a tough commodity market.

What’s more, the move sends a strong signal to developers that HP is serious about webOS. That’s important given the competing demands on mobile developers’ time. Programming for iPhone and Android are givens for most mobile shops, but HP needs to battle hard if it wants to compete with Research In Motion and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 for that spot as “next most important mobile OS.”

That said, the HP move isn’t a panacea for the company’s developer challenges with webOS. It won’t be enough to just throw the operating system onto PCs and printers. It will have to make sure there is a compelling case for using webOS on such devices.