Palm and Android, Friends?

The business media is a-buzz about HP buying Palm. It is unclear how strong a player in smartphones the combination will be. However, I can think of one way that could be rather interesting.

Waaaaaaaaaaay back in January 2009, I wrote a piece for NetworkWorld called Pre-Conceived Notions. In it, I suggested that Palm and WebOS would still have an uphill road to climb if they launched a proprietary OS with just one carrier, and in retrospect I seemed to nail that one.

I also made a prediction that failed miserably but points to a possible WebOS future:

I will be stunned if, within 72 hours of the WebOS SDK release, we do not have an Android workalike for the WebOS SDK that at least covers “Hello, world!” applications. A month later, and Android will probably have a workalike that covers a substantial portion of the WebOS SDK. The iPhone will as well, so long as the iPhone App Store rules don’t prohibit it.

While I whiffed on my timetables, the concept is still solid, IMHO. While I am no expert on WebOS, I have seen little that could not be done as a layer on top of Android. Think of it as the HTC Sense or MOTOBLUR of HP. Now, the more recent WebOS equivalent of the Android NDK would be a problem, but that’s a relative newcomer to the WebOS scene.

By recasting WebOS applications as effectively home screen widgets – with WebOS as the home screen atop Android – HP can have its cake and eat it too. They can get mileage from WebOS, while also gaining access to the much larger catalog of available Android applications and developer community.

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