WebOS has many hurdles to overcome, but HP’s potential rewards outweigh the risks.

Technology Business Review believes webOS could become a player in the mobile device landscape if Android or Windows 8 falters. TBR research indicates commercial buyers are waiting to evaluate Microsoft’s entry, while commercial buyers are wary of Apple because it is a closed system and because they have little influence over Apple.

They have concerns about Android’s security and Google as a new partner, but they know and trust Microsoft. If neither Microsoft nor Android offers a clear winner for commercial tablets, then webOS, from familiar HP could provide an answer.

HP’s decision to keep webOS alive via open source is a sound business decision. The incremental cost of supporting and maintaining established software is relatively small compared with hardware.

By releasing webOS to the community, HP can leverage the community’s creativity, as third parties will be given the tools to customize and extend webOS, potentially creating a viable Siri competitor.

While HP will not need to invest much of its own resources into webOS, it will reap the benefits if the platform evolves and is adopted.

If webOS becomes a forgettable platform, HP will continue to focus on the leading tablet operating systems instead. If webOS gains traction, HP is unlikely to face competition in webOS from major vendors, and has a chance to reap significant rewards with minimal risk.

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