Hewlett-Packard is hoping to bring its WebOS to kitchen appliances and automobiles, as the company looks to spur the growth of its stumbling platform.
HP says it is in talks with several companies that have “enormous amounts of interest” in licensing WebOS for use in products like stoves, washing machines and cars. The company says the platform’s ability to use touch commands and connect to the Internet could make these machines easier to operate and make it easier to add new features.
The company reasons consumers who use a WebOS-based refrigerator or car will gravitate to phones and tablets that run the same platform to assure seamless integration. For example, if a consumer’s vehicle needs an oil change or the door to the fridge is left open, users can get alerts sent directly to their other WebOS devices.
The new plan maybe a recipe for success, but it may be tough for HP to execute. HP’s TouchPad, which runs WebOS, has struggled to compete against Apple’s iPad and Android-based tablets, prompting the company to drop the price of the device by $100.
In other words, WebOS is not currently the most popular platform. But by licensing WebOS to appliance makers and car manufacturers, HP hopes to create an ecosystem of devices based on WebOS.
While HP reports companies have an interest in striking a deal, none has yet committed, possibly because of Google’s competing interest. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has also reportedly met with hardware companies to discuss the possibility of implementing the OS into products ranging from GPS terminals to refrigerators.
HP may also encounter difficulty in instituting an OS in automobiles. Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor Corporation already have car entertainment software in place and analysts say these companies are not interested in changing suppliers.
Analysts say WebOS is solid and easy-to-use, which could make it the best option for companies manufacturing devices for non-tech-savvy people. However, HP’s plan could suffer for the same reason as its TouchPad, because the company is a little late to the party.
In May, rival Google announced its Android@Home plan to turn smartphones into universal remotes for all kinds of electronic devices.