Often careers are defined by big gambles. Steve Jobs, when faced with a failing company, took a huge gamble with a little MP3 concept from PortalPlayer and Pixo and the iPod was born, Apple was saved and an empire recreated.
WebOS may not seem like much, but neither did the iPod initially. Yet, from little things like this entire new market, paradigms can be created and the WebOS, given it arguably addresses issues with both Windows and Android, could provide that kind of a result depending on what HP does.
Let's take a look at what kind of a tree could spring from this little seed.
Windows, iOS, Android Gap
Microsoft is making a huge gamble with its PC platform as it drives it down to tablet form factors. Right now, the successful platforms, like Apple's iOS, were designed specifically for ARM and to be ultra-portable. Microsoft is going to try to bridge traditional PCs and tablets with one operating system and, by so doing, is exploding the choice users will need to make. Right now, they choose between a desktop and laptop configuration, but when Windows 8 ships, they will have to initially choose between ARM and x86 platforms and three configurations: desktop, laptop and tablet. There are likely to be hybrids in this mix as well, taking a choice between two initial form factors - neither of which users may think is ideal - and exploding it.
Android, on the other hand, is increasingly seen as the biggest malware and security threat magnet on the planet. McAfee's latest report implies that this platform should be avoided like the digital equivalent of Typhoid Mary and it is being blocked by somewhere between a third and two-thirds of large enterprises based on feedback at the last EMC customer council meeting. It is just waiting for that one catastrophic disaster to be dead in the water as well.