Hewlett Packard CEO Leo Apotheker sees WebOS as more than just a mobile operating system, but as a technological force that's going to compel the entire IT industry to sit up and take notice.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, which took place Wednesday at the D9 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Apotheker said HP is currently focusing on spreading the word about WebOS and isn't yet addressing the more labor intensive task of positioning it against mobile rivals.
"This isn’t about taking Apple head-on. It’s about establishing credibility. Once we are the third alternative, it’s a marathon, not a sprint," Apotheker said, according to a transcript from the D9 conference interview.
HP, which launched its Veer WebOS smartphone last month through AT&T and is gearing up to launch its Pre3 and TouchPad tablet this summer, currently accounts for a tiny fraction of the mobile device market, which makes Apotheker's third place claim seem rather bombastic.
However, HP also considering the idea of licensing WebOS to third parties, including HTC, Apotheker said at D9. "I happen to believe that webOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system. It’s not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices," Apotheker said in the interview.
Apotheker reiterated HP's plan to put WebOS on Windows PCs and on all HP printers priced at more than $100. Once the TouchPad hits the market, HP will be able to lure WebOS developers with a footprint of between 100 to 110 million devices a year, he said.
HP's channel partners will also play a role in driving demand for WebOS, from SMBs all the way up to the enterprise, Apotheker said in the D9 interview.
"Developers need real estate. You’re going to try and find a platform that is big enough to create traction," Apotheker said in the interview.