HP has announced that they will "open source" WebOS to let the community of developers continue improving it. This is the only sensible thing that the company could have done after failing to market and stopping the production of tablets earlier this year. HP said they will continue investment in this open source project. However, without a strong leadership, vision and centralized user interface design, as it is case with almost all open source products, I am not expecting miracles.
In the future, if WebOS can avoid legal complications, because of its open source nature and therefore free price tag, it could become the OS for masses, especially I see it as OS for EDUCATION, something that Android might be able to achieve if Microsoft and Apple will not raise the cost too far by litigation and fees per unit sold.
I think a new, celebrity-backed venture might be able able to pick up WebOS and do miracles if they:
1) are small and nimble with a strong visionary at the helm
2) have a brilliant graphical user design person leading the way
3) develop relationships with major educational text-book publishers
4) have relationship with at least one manufacturer to develop 7 inch tablet for education industry.
The tablet would have to be bullet proof and inexpensive very much like Amazon Fire and Barnes or Noble Nook Tablet. I have been using two 7 inch tablets for a year now and I am convinced that it is the best form factor. Motorola is making such tablet for retail and medical industries, I have seen a pre-production prototype, but it felt a little too bulky to imagine students liking it. The tablet could be limited to WiFi only and skip on GPS and gyroscope, however it would have to feature gorilla glass and very solid casing not unlike Moto Android Razr or iPhone 4. The 7 inch screen with 1024x600 resolution would be plenty. I also believe that bluetooth for HID keyboard and other periferials would be a must. On software side in addition to great textbook reading and "margin" note-taking and quick highlighter marking applications I believe the apps should be residing on the device so the need for WiFi would be necessary only at the beginning of the semester and to submit the papers. The could be solved with as little as one hot spot per school. The security of student-server-teacher exchanges and DRM of materials would have to be considered as it is a case with any test-taking solution today, I have been part of such Houghton Mifflin project in the past.
While I am not quite there rounding up celebrities, investors, manufacturers and textbook publishers, I am however sure that the tablet revolution is coming to the educational institution near you.
Please post, or send me your comments.