Would Nokia-Palm merger spell doom for WebOS?

It's not a sure thing, but if Nokia were to acquire Palm could the vendor juggle three mobile operating systems?

If I had a dollar for every instance of misguided Wall Street speculation, I might be richer than a trader, but let's just imagine that Nokia will acquire Palm, as reported on Friday. What would happen to Palm's WebOS, the mobile operating system that debuted last June with the Palm Pre?

If an acquisition happened, Nokia would have three operating systems in its smartphone portfolio: Symbian, Maemo, and WebOS. That's a lot of platforms for one company, so I wouldn't be surprised if Nokia were to cut one of them loose.

Symbian is probably safe. It's the most widely-used mobile operating system in the world, and Gartner predicts that it'll stay that way until at least 2012, probably longer.

If either WebOS or Maemo had to go, it'd be a tough call. Nokia just released the N900, a powerful smartphone that, let's face it, has no chance of catching the iPhone, but at least shows that Nokia wants to compete. In that regard, the N900 somewhat resembles the Palm Pre, which was supposed to be an iPhone Killer but hasn't sold well.

WebOS has been well-received, and it's arguably the best part of either the Palm Pre or the Palm Pixi, but its Achilles heel is a slow drip of new third-party apps. Just now, five months after the Pre's arrival, WebOS has an official Facebook app.

Nokia has the Ovi Store, which still pales in comparison to the iPhone's App Store but can at least attract developers by running across multiple devices and operating systems, from Symbian phones to the N900, and even on Nokia's Booklet 3G netbook. This lure would only strengthen if Nokia simplified its portfolio of mobile operating systems.

I'm not saying that if Nokia acquired Palm today, that WebOS would die tomorrow, but it's conceivable that Nokia would phase it out over time. More likely, I think, is that Nokia would promote some harmony across its operating systems with the Ovi Store, replacing Palm's app store with its own for a more focused battle against the iPhone's App Store and the Android Market.

But that's just speculation.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags PalmwebOSNokia

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?