Oh Lord, let me count the ways. No surprises here, but it's a huge blow all the same; HP has confirmed to CNBC that it will use exclusively its own webOS software in its smartphones.
HP, of course, acquired said webOS when it purchased Palm earlier this summer. HP clearly plans to go big with smartphones and all bets are on webOS.
This makes sense. We all saw it coming a mile away when HP announced it was buying Palm back in the spring. That being said, this has to hurt for Microsoft. HP, after all, is Microsoft's biggest customer.
Dell, Microsoft's other mega-customer, is betting on Droid for its smartphones.
Where will this leave Windows Phone 7? Answer: Samsung, LG and a handful of Asian smartphone makers. That's not bad; but it doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room to make the necessary splash in the U.S. market to turn heads away from the well-established enterprise set using Blackberry, the hurt-me-I'm-so-cool iPhone crew or the pick-up-a-pitchfork-and-storm-the-castle Droid mob.
I believe that ultimately choosing against "united we stand" will mean "divided we fall" for HP and Microsoft. It's hard to imagine the field having room for one more smartphone platform, much less two.
I know, I know! Some of you will undoubtedly point out to me that Windows Phone 7 will have such an edge with the corporate crowd because it will integrate so seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft servers, its unified communication tools blah, blah.
Yup, if it were up to IT to pick employee mobile devices then it might have a fighting chance. However, it doesn't really work that way. IT will make recommendations and employees will get a Blackberry, a Droid or an iPhone anyway.
This isn't like company-issued desktops or even laptops. Mobile devices are personal. In the end, people will just get the phone they want. Windows Phone 7 may answer a need. But, I don't see it answering anybody's "want".