If true, I think this way lies madness, HTC! In an interview with China's Economic Observer, HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang confirmed her company is possibly in the market for an operating system. She was quick to add that she's in no hurry to make a move. Nor did she say anything to indicate that HTC is lusting after Hewlett Packard's recently shelved and orphaned WebOS.

Of course, that's what everyone else is thinking. Just a few weeks ago, HP stopped production on its new line of WebOS tablets and indicated it has plans to spin off its PC unit while refocusing the company on software services for the enterprise. Since then the rumors have been flying about who might want to make a play for HP's WebOS. Samsung and HTC have been the most obvious suitors.

At the same time, Google announced plans to snap up Motorola Mobility, marrying Android to Motorola handsets and tablets in the future. As we know, Apple is married to itself with it's iOS mobile platform on top of its own iPhones, iPads and iPods. Research in Motion has its own proprietary operating system for its Blackberry devices. And while Microsoft doesn't own Nokia (yet?), the two companies have entangled themselves businesswise to better entangle Windows Phone 7 and Nokia's mobile hardware.

It seems integrated mobile devices are all the rage. But, is this a strategy that will backfire on the mobile industry?

Integrated devices is a strategy that works well for Apple. It's the industry leader. Logic would follow; copy Apple and be competitive. That's what Google is doing (and for them, this strategy is working beautifully). For Research in Motion, which just a few years ago ruled the cell phone/smartphone roost with its Blackberries, is now dying on the vine. HP bought up Palm just to get its hands on WebOS to integrate with its mobile devices. In action, that strategy lasted about six weeks on the consumer market.

My take: I think integrated devices are a great strategy for number one and two (Apple and Google's Android). For everyone else, you're screwed. The bottom line is that the mobile market is very, very quickly shaping up into an "either/or" market between Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating sytem.

Reseach in Motion, Microsoft, and the others who now or later decide to careen among the distant numbers three, four, and five mobile-operating sytems will have to learn how to survive on crumbs of market share—or do something else (like HP refocusing on software solutions for the enterprise).

The issue isn't whether the operating system and hardware should be fully integrated under one brand name. The issue is whether it's an Apple or Android device. Period.

Samsung, HTC and other mobile manufactorers would be better served shoring up their partnerships with Android (Google, for now, has now known plans to make Android proprietary to Motorola devices once the deal goes through). Hitching their wagons to one of the also-ran operating systems out there would put them on the path to the trash heap of mobile computing history, I fear.

Agree, or disagree?