HP's WebOS Strategy: Don't Make Me Laugh

We all remember Steve Ballmer's weird, sweat-soaked performance in 2006 when he stomped about a stage chanting, "Developers, developers, developers!" He had a point, of course: Developers are the lifeblood of any platform, and on the mobile front, Hewlett-Packard doesn't have them. That's just one reason why CEO Léo Apotheker -- with his WebOS ploy -- is going to fall flat on his butt.

But there are so many more reasons that this effort will fail. Start with Apotheker himself: His short tenure at the helm of SAP was a failure, as he was unable to get important new initiatives, like BusinessByDesign (small-business SaaS), off the ground and spent $5.6 billion to buy Sybase as the linchpin of a new mobile strategy. And what did the shareholders of SAP get for their money? Bupkis. Nada. Zip.

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Now this uninspired bozo is running Hewlett-Packard, a company deep in resources and talent but woefully short on inspiration and solid leadership. Being late to market is never a good idea, but companies can recover and still compete in a new arena if they have a clear vision and sharp execution. HP has neither.

Platforms are the name of the game in mobile, and the chances of WebOS becoming a real rival to Apple's iOS and Google's Android are slim. As for Apotheker, whose first full quarter as HP CEO was a bust, I wouldn't buy him any extended-play DVDs to enjoy in his corner office.

Too many mobile platforms

Apple had a huge lead in mobile with the runaway success of the iPhone -- but Google got in the game with Android. Sure, there were missteps; the Nexus One was pitiful and the Android platform is still fragmented. Nevertheless, Android is now outselling the iPhone. There are plenty of reasons for that, not all of them due to Google's strategy. Because AT&T's network frustrated so many users when it had the only iPhone in town, smartphone-hungry consumers were open to an alternative.

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