HP will put WebOS on every computer it sells by 2012

In a bold move likely aimed at bolstering its software business, HP CEO Leo Apotheker revealed in an interview with BusinessWeek published Wednesday that its WebOS operating system will make it on to every HP PC by 2012. Apotheker's comments confirm earlier ones made at the launch of the TouchPad last month.

At the time, the company said it planned to expand WebOS beyond its current home on tablet and smartphone devices. The move would signal a shift in strategy for HP, which currently only sees about two percent of revenues come from software. Compare this to its hardware business, which makes up about 70 percent of all sales.

HP acquired Palm and its assets for $1.2 billion last April. The future of the once dominant PDA manufacturer was uncertain within HP until October, when HP unveiled WebOS 2.0, calling it a significant upgrade to the platform.

WebOS will not replace Microsoft's Windows as the primary operating system, nor apparently run within Windows itself. Instead, HP has decided to make new computers dual-boot, meaning consumers would have a choice of which platform to run.

The reason for putting WebOS front and center among so many of its customers may be much more than just making use of a platform HP can get for free: it may be the survival of the OS itself. Currently, some 350,000 apps exist for the iOS platform. Compare that to WebOS, which only has about 6,000.

If HP cannot generate interest among developers to create apps for WebOS, it could start a domino effect among other developers who might also decide to focus their efforts elsewhere, and on platforms with a wider distribution.

"You create a massive platform," Apotheker told BusinessWeek.

Some believe that merely stopping at HP's own hardware is a mistake in and of itself. "If HP truly limits WebOS to only its computers, it'll be missing out on a huge chunk of the market and an even bigger opportunity to create the 'massive platform' for WebOS that it's trying to build," Doug Aamoth wrote for Time's Techland blog.

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