HP's decision last week to halt development of webOS hardware has put the future of the mobile OS in jeopardy. WebOS app developers have begun sizing up alternative platforms like Android and iOS. Meanwhile, Microsoft is actively recruiting webOS devs, which could help it build its Windows Phone 7 software portfolio.
Reeling from the gap created in their lives by HP's (NYSE: HPQ) announcement Thursday that it's ceasing work on webOS devices, webOS app developers have reportedly been swift to stagger into Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) arms.
At least 500 webOS app devs responded to a call put out by Brandon Watson, Microsoft's senior director of Windows Phone 7 development, within 22 hours, Watson tweeted Saturday.
That's good news for Microsoft.
"It seems that Microsoft currently really lacks developers around its app ecosystem, which is why it's so actively recruiting them," Estuardo Robles, vice president of marketing at AppsGeyser, told TechNewsWorld.
But what about webOS developers? What's in store for them?
Windows Phone 7 has not quite taken off yet, although Microsoft's working hard to promote it.
"As far as developers are concerned, I'd say, as always, follow the market," said Simon Khalaf, CEO of Flurry Analytics.
"Develop on iOS first, Android second and, as Microsoft gains traction with Nokia (NYSE: NOK), consider it," Khalaf told TechNewsWorld.
Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Strangers With Candy
Microsoft's offering lots of goodies to lure webOS app devs into its fold.
Watson offered free phones, developer tools and training among other things, when he reached out to webOS devs Friday.
"Microsoft's compelling offering to give away devices, support and consultancy to webOS developers who will switch to them is definitely a good move," AppsGeyser's Robles opined.
Those goodies will likely make it easier for webOS devs to jump onto the Windows Phone 7 train.
"It's getting tougher and tougher in the app development market, especially for the small guys who can't afford to support two platforms," IDC's Stofega said. "Porting tools and other things they need are expensive."
In the long run, this could lead to "a new world order where the big guys who have porting tools and the capabilities might start to be the ones that matter in terms of the application development market," Stofega stated.
Only the Strong Survive
Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) move to purchase of Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) Monday, followed by HP's slamming shut webOS' doors, have changed the face of the mobile device market.
"This whole issue of vertical integration looks like the hot thing today, whereas about a year ago it was all about being open," Will Stofega, a program director at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.
"Motorola Mobility had a lot of things going for it but it takes deep pockets to compete against the Samsungs and LGs, so this helps Motorola out and gives Google a way of enhancing their platform," Stofega said.
"Apple has proven that a vertically integrated solution works well," Flurry's Khalaf said.
"In summary, I'd say it is Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) versus NokiaSoft versus Samdroid -- Samsung and Android," Khalaf added.
So, is it wise for webOS appdevs to make the jump straight to WinPho7?
"At AppsGeyser, we see three types of developers -- those who want to create an awesome app, those who want to make money selling their app for a price, and those who want to build a viable business around apps," AppsGeyser's Robles said.
The first would be "OK, just on Android," the second, "OK just on iOS," and the third type "needs to be on all three platforms," Robles said.
What About Apple?
Any discussion of mobile apps must include Apple's iOS, which looms large over the market and accounts for Cupertino's dominance of the mobile device market.
Could Apple have reached out to webOS appdevs?
Apple has "a lot of developers who can create enough useful apps with some of them creating top apps from time to time," AppGeyser's Robles pointed out. "I think Apple would rather just tell its existing developers to produce new apps, and it'll get a lot of new apps the same day," he added.
On the other hand, perhaps the situation isn't quite so bleak.
"I am assuming that every developer who built on webOS has already built on iOS," Flurry's Khalaf said. "If they didn't consider iOS as their main platform, they don't exist."