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Lane said that HP's TouchPad tablet PC, when it was launched, was very far behind the competition in terms of shelf space. "And just getting the devices out there, it was very, very tough to compete," he said. "We could have chosen a different direction, just take a billion-dollar or a two-billion-dollar write-off and price it down. When we did price it down, it flew off the shelves. We could have been a price leader."
One CIO in the audience asked Lane and Robison why, after emphasizing the uniqueness of WebOS, HP now appears to have no way to take advantage of it after dropping its TouchPad and smart phones.
Lane said HP is currently in discussions with potential partners who are competitors with Apple and its iOS operating system, and with Google and its Android technology.
"There's a lot of people out there, and a lot of devices, that would like to have WebOS as an alternative to Android," he added. "So you're right. We need the places to put it, and we need to drive volumes so developers have that volume. . . . Without that distribution, the capability is meaningless."
HP's goal is to give WebOS a life of its own as a platform for the industry, especially for enterprises, Robison said.
"Our view is, enterprises are going to develop Web applications as well," he said. "And they're going to deploy them using modern service-based business models. So we'll have a platform for enterprise Web app developers, for consumer Web app developers, that can span all the existing operating system environments. What we're trying to do is come up with a business model and a future for WebOS that's consistent with that."