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 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

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?