HP's webOS tablet, the TouchPad, may not have set the market alight, but the company is hoping a broader playing-field for the platform might make a big difference. webOS chief Stephen DeWitt told the WSJ that HP is exploring the possibility of putting the software into cars and onto home appliances, claiming that there was an "enormous amount" of manufacturer interest for the concept.
HP has previously said that it intends to put webOS onto every one of its PCs come 2012 in an attempt to saturate the market with the software. However, this new automotive and appliance direction could - if HP's play pans out, and it can translate interest to adoption - considerably extend webOS' reach. That ought to do what the Pre range of smartphones and TouchPad tablet are yet to convincingly do: persuade developers to focus on the webOS platform.
Actually breaking into those two new segments may be tougher than HP expects, however. DeWitt would not name any specific firms in talks over using webOS, while analysts and manufacturers the newspaper spoke to expressed doubts over whether the stalwarts of the two industries would react positively to a new addition. Home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool voiced concerns that webOS' longevity may not be up to that expected from consumer goods, for instance. Back in May, HP demonstrated how the TouchPad could be used to remotely control appliances.
As for cars, while other platforms - notably MeeGo - have automotive branches, analysts aren't confident that webOS would go down well. "The automobile industry has no interest in changing suppliers every year" Thilo Koslowski argues, with HP's relatively late play in the segment counting against it.