Microsoft’s Windows 8 Wins In HP’s Surrender Of webOS

Robert Scoble By Robert Scoble
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…but will users support Windows tablets?

HP execs announce TouchPad

HP announced today that it is withdrawing the TouchPad from the market, which calls into question the future of webOS.

First, so far Dieter Bohn has the best article on how HP failed that I’ve seen so far.

The photo I put on this post is of Todd Bradley, HP executive vice president, and Jon Rubenstein, of Palm, at the announcement of HP’s tablet.

But, there is something else that I haven’t seen yet discussed.

This is a HUGE win for Windows 8.

Why?

Well, when I was listening to the HP announcement I thought that it was a huge snub in the eye from HP toward Microsoft. It was. HP clearly wanted to be free of the Microsoft ecosystem and wanted to have an OS it controlled and that it didn’t need to pay Microsoft $40 to $200 for.

Seemed like a bold move at the time. Today, though, it is clear that strategy did not work.

Now HP has to wimper back to Microsoft for meetings with Steven Sinofsky, who runs Windows, and say “we’re sorry, we’re back to help make Windows 8 rock.”

I don’t see HP having many other choices at this point.

But there’s another part to this story that I’ve been repeating all year. “No apps, no sales.”

If you want to be a leading platform today you MUST get third-party developers on your side. To rub that in a bit, today I was hanging out with Photobucket’s CEO, Tom Munro. I asked him what he thought about the HP news. You can listen in on that conversation here.

Don’t know why Photobucket is relevant? They have nine billion photos. Flickr only has five billion. They just made a deal with Twitter to become the photo sharing system underneath Twitter. Twitter made a deal with Apple to become the official social network for iOS. IE, he’s now the official photo sharing guy for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Developers like him keep telling me “Apple is first in my mind, Google is second, and I don’t have time for #3, but if I do, looks like Microsoft has the best future.”

This is quite consistent around Silicon Valley. Even Tom told me that growth on RIM is “flat, going down.” Android, he says, is growing fastest.

This matches what most other CEOs who build apps tell me.

So, can anyone disrupt this? Can anyone sell a Tablet that doesn’t have an Apple logo?

Let’s look at who can:

1. Microsoft still is hot with Xbox, and is struggling with mobile, but Windows 8 at least looks freaking awesome. Yeah, the pundits will dig into Windows and find it isn’t as nice an experience once you dig in, but consumers who see this on TV will be wowed and Microsoft still has lots of fans.

2. Android tablet makers are struggling, except for Samsung, which has built a brand that consumers like. One question mark, though, is how Samsung will deal with Apple’s patent suits. But even Samsung hasn’t sold gobs of a 10-inch tablet, which is where the sweet spot is for tablets.

3. Amazon could change everything. Why? I can see Amazon subsidizing a tablet to lower its price to $200. I also keep hearing about a $99 Kindle coming soon. Having a “one-two-punch” is going to be interesting. Amazon, unlike other tablet makers, can build an ecosystem. Already I’m hearing from SIlicon Valley’s startup world that they are EXCITED by Amazon and are already working on apps for an Amazon tablet. I never heard that about the HP tablet.

The major problem for Microsoft is that its computing brands are starting to look old and crappy and Windows 8 won’t come out until next year. You better believe that Steve Ballmer will be at CES pulling out all stops. One problem for Ballmer, though. Steve Jobs is already planning iPad 3 and will probably announce that right on top of CES. If the iPad 3 really does have a killer screen, like my friends say they are working on, then it’ll be hard for Microsoft to deal with Apple.

Or, maybe, is that where HP comes in? Does HP have something in its research labs that will let it get back into bed with Microsoft? Could HP buy a company like Nanosys which makes a new screen technology that could help get me excited by a Microsoft tablet?

Well, yes, but it’s clear that for now Apple has no competition in the 10-inch tablet space.

No apps, no sale.

Which makes me wonder, what will the users do?

Will they all go iPad? Or will the market split into Apple vs Google, like it is today on smartphones? I can see that happening next year, but I wonder if Microsoft has the right stuff to disrupt Apple and Google?

What do you think?

Reprinted, in part, from my post on Google+. (Lots of comments over there).

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About Robert Scoble
Robert Scoble is the founder of the Scobleizer blog. He works as PodTech.net's Vice President of Media Development.

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