Could HTC Succeed with its Own Open Source Mobile OS?
Is it too late for a new open source mobile operating system to compete with Android? OStatic has made the point many times that Android has reached an incredible volume of welcome in a very short time. After all, in March of 2009, when only one Android handset was shown at Mobile World Congress, many analysts wondered if the OS was dead coming out of the gate. Android's meteoric success since then also coincided with multiple dropped balls from Symbian in trying to open source its once hugely powerful mobile platform. Now that HP has taken its foot of the gas with its WebOS platform, Android doesn't really have clear open source competition anymore. That could still change, though.
There have been many reports that Google wants to "supercharge" its Android efforts through its purchase of Motorola Mobility, which puts Google squarely in the handset and hardware mobile business. At the same time, though, hardware players who have adopted Android have to wonder whether they'll become second-class citizens as Google steers new versions of Android toward its own phones and its own plans.
HTC is one of those hardware players to have made huge bets on Android, many of them successful. Now, HTC officials have come out and said they are interested in buying an operating system, and it would be smart for HTC to pursue its own open source mobile OS. Cher Wang, chairwoman of HTC, has pointed particularly to the possibility of HTC buying WebOS. In this post, she is quoted as saying:
"We have given it thought and we have discussed it internally, but we will not do it on impulse...We can use any OS we want. We are able to make things different from our rivals on the second or third layer of a platform...Our strength lies in understanding an OS, but it does not mean that we have to produce an OS."
HTC did a shrewd job of understanding the potential of Android, and the company understood that potential early on. A peek at the amount of ground that Android has covered in a short time seems to leave the door wide open for a player such as HTC to promote its own mobile OS.
Perhaps the most troublesome argument against such a move would be that Apple's and Android's app stores are now teeming with good applications. That would be a challenge for a new player with a new mobile OS, but not an insurmountable one.