Tough headline, I know. Trouble is, I don't know another way to describe Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) CEO Leo Apotheker's strategy to put the WebOS it acquired from Palm onto its PCs next to Windows.
It's like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) putting Boot Camp onto its early Macs in order to convince consumers, corporate types, and developers that owning a Mac wasn't the digital equivalent of putting on a straitjacket.
Or in more updated terms, it's like Apple slowly merging the Mac OS and iOS in order to convince developers that its platforms offer the greatest profit opportunity.
Either way, this isn't the HP whose slogan used to be "invent." And yet borrowing from Apple's playbook is probably a good idea. Having PCs with WebOS means more devices for WebOS apps, which creates more incentive for developers to take time away from writing iOS and Android apps.
What troubles me is the timing and the nonchalance of it all. I'm having visions of Apotheker-led executive meetings in which a competitive review dictates strategy. Here's how it plays out in my head:
"Honeycomb looks great on tablets!"
"Yeah, and Chrome OS is going to kill it on netbooks."
"Don't forget the new iPad!"
"Right, and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) . Can't forget about Mr. Softy. At CES, Ballmer said they're going to put Windows on lightweight PCs powered by ARM Holdings' (Nasdaq: ARMH ) processor designs. Developers need a reason to work with us!"
"OK, so let me get this straight. We need something to compete against Apple and the iPad, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and Android and Chrome OS, and new lightweight Windows devices. Fine. Let's get the WebOS ready to run on a PC."
Maybe it's time. I just don't see how a copycat strategy that boosts access but not features changes anything. Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about WebOS, HP's strategy, and what developers want from the PC makers using the comments box below.
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