One of the key things Steve Jobs mentioned during the unveiling of the iPad was how people who had used the iPhone and/or iPod Touch would know how to use the iPad instantly.  This is a great selling point as it allows Apple to sell huge numbers of the device even to those people who can’t get to an Apple Store or Best Buy to try one out.   Odds are you already know how to use it even if you are only pondering the purchase.

During the conference call with HP the day it was announced it was buying Palm, a comment was made that we could possibly see the critically acclaimed WebOS, the operating system that runs the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi, show up in other devices.  HP said that it was too early to announce anything or make firm plans because the purchase wasn’t completed yet, but you know that there are papers drawn up somewhere of what they will do with this OS.

hp preThat got me to wondering if Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, has once again influenced the tech world, and we’re going to see more operating systems that show up on more than one device.

The executives from HP mentioned phones as well as tablets and netbooks without saying this was all set in stone.  There have also been some rumblings that the Metro User Interface (UI) that Microsoft is using on Windows Phone 7 might appear on other devices, and even some rumblings that it could be a hint to the appearance of Windows 8.  We even saw similar things happening during Windows Mobile where that mobile operating system took on the look of Windows to some degree so that it looked familiar and comfortable to users.

If I was a betting man, I would say that I think we are at the dawn of a new age of computing in more ways than just one.  We are moving to a more mobile world without a doubt, but it appears we are also moving to a world of universal operating systems.  Imagine you use a WebOS powered phone, and a tablet comes out also running WebOS, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable with it since you already knew most of the ins-and-outs of it?  This isn’t too horribly far-fetched as this is already happening Google’s Android OS showing up on a slew of tablets as well as on phones.

As I see it, there are two huge benefits to universal operating systems: Reduction in development costs and the comfort consumers will feel.  I’ve already covered the latter a bit, but imagine how much companies will save in development costs if they come up with operating systems that power multiple devices?  Develop once, release multiple products based on that and save your self a ton of money.  It will also be more conducive to luring in application developers as they will get more bang for their buck.

I highly doubt that this is the only reason that HP purchased Palm.   If that was all they were after, then they could have just built their own operating system, but I do feel it factored in as WebOS, despite all of Palm’s problems, has been praised so much that it may have influenced the decision at least somewhat.  And with Google, Microsoft and Apple all seeming to follow this new operating system ecosystem, it made sense for HP to go this route also.  I wouldn’t be too surprised to see other companies following suit in the not too distant future.

What say you?  Are more companies going to be going down a universal operating system path?  Do you like the idea?