Scarcely a day after the announced demise of Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad tablet, Microsoft moved to attract those developers to its Windows Phone 7 platform. On Friday, the software giant offered free phones, tools and training to webOS developers who want to create apps for its struggling mobile platform.
The offer was made Friday via Twitter, by Microsoft's senior director of Phone 7 development, Brandon Watson. "To Any Published WebOS Devs," he addressed the message. "We'll give you what you need to be successful on #WindowsPhone." On Thursday, the day before Watson's offer, HP had announced it is discontinuing hardware products for its webOS platform, although it has indicated that the software side is still operational.
HP said it is also looking to sell its personal systems group, which handles PCs and webOS devices, and it wants to concentrate on enterprise and printer markets. It's looking to license webOS to others, including possibly appliance and makers, but Microsoft apparently thinks webOS developers are not going to wait around for HP to place the OS in new products.
Microsoft's Phone 7 platform only has about 30,000 apps, compared to hundreds of thousands for Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS.
But by focusing on Phone 7, developers may be losing webOS' multi-platform advantage. Some observers have noted that the webOS software development kit, which is constructed around the open-source browser layout engine WebKit, could build cross-platform apps for other WebKit-based frameworks, notably iOS, Android and Research In Motion's PlayBook -- but not for Phone 7, which doesn't use WebKit.
The TouchPad launched July 1 at $499 for the 16GB model and $599 for the 32GB. Last week, news reports indicated that retailer Best Buy wanted to return the many unsold TouchPads it had, as it was said to have sold only about 25,000 or less of the 270,000 units in its inventory. But HP resisted and implemented a variety of discounts to move the stock.
At the same time, The Wall Street Journal reported that HP is working to license webOS into appliances and cars, something that CEO Leo Apotheker had said earlier this summer the company is interested in doing. In March, the company also said webOS would become available on all its products. The webOS platform was considered a major reason why HP spent $1.2 billion last year to buy its original parent, Palm.
Now the discontinued TouchPad is being offered at $99.99 for the 16GB model and $149 for the 32GB -- and they have sold out at HP's web site and at Best Buy stores.
Posted: 2011-08-25 @ 10:35am PT
With a range of 30,000 apps in Windows Marketplace, Microsoft needs all the labor it can get to expand its app business further.