After first breaking the news regarding the death of Webtop within the new Motorola and Google handing down the kill order, the manufacturer has confirmed in a new statement made to CNET on Friday that Webtop was killed due to what it claims is lower than expected adoption and lack of resources.
Motorola’s Webtop app helps users extend their smartphone experience to larger screens. While consumers around the world have adopted Webtop and the concept spurred a lot of innovation in the industry, the adoption has not been strong enough to justify continued resources being allocated to developing Webtop on future devices. We have also seen development of the Android operating system focus on the inclusion of more desktop-like features. Beginning with Photon Q and Droid Razr M/Droid Razr HD/Droid Razr Maxx HD, we will no longer be including Webtop on our products moving forward.
The Webtop initiative was spearheaded by former Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha and was a frequent point of pride for him when speaking to the tech press as Motorola launched both the Webtop software and the former flagship in the Motorola Atrix 4G during the International CES in January of 2011. The idea behind Webtop was sound, as it allowed select Android smartphones to theoretically run full Linux applications outside of the desktop class Firefox web browser, had Motorola allowed for the complete functionality of the Linux distro as originally planned and not locked it down.
However, what almost immediately killed initial enthusiasm for the Webtop functionality were two key factors that all but ensured its eventual failure. One, the dock was priced at the same price as a fully featured Windows laptop at launch, driving away many potential customers and the initial performance of the Webtop functionality left much to be desired, as many of the complaints centered around the additional expense of needing an additional tethering plan to use the Lapdock thanks to AT&T’s arcane policies.
As time went on and even during the announcement of the Google purchase, Webtop was further refined, but the subsequent versions of the functionality did away with the full-featured Linux distro and stripped it down to display mirroring functionality for use on large displays and select peripherals, completely changing the scope of what Webtop was supposed to be, from a fully-fledged lightweight mobile computing alternative to a multimedia focused display mirroring functionality, as later versions of Webtop reduced emphasis on Lapdock usage despite being expanded to more devices outside of the original flagship in the Atrix 4G, such as the variants in the Electrify and Photon 4G and select Verizon Droid models.
With the confirmation and admission of the lack of resources and interest needed to keep development going, it remains to be seen whether Android will indeed integrate and fully flesh out the ideas presented in Webtop, especially as current high-end Android hardware could easily power a netbook the same size as the Lapdock.
One can only hope a company that isn’t Motorola would take the idea of the Lapdock and run with it to its logical conclusion, since those units have now been relegated to the deal a day liquidation sites for almost 80% of its original MSRP, meaning those that bought each version of the Lapdock essentially paid an early adopter fee for devices that are now useless to all but the most dedicated hackers and enthusiasts.