HP Has Decided to Open Source webOS

| by Abel Avram Follow 9 Followers on Dec 09, 2011. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

HP will open source webOS along with Enyo, and promises to remain active in its development.

HP has decided to open source their mobile operating system, webOS. They will not only make it available to the community, but they pledge to continue being active in its development and support. They also promise to make available Enyo, their HTML-based framework which allows applications to run in any WebKit browser. HP will reconsider creating mobile devices for webOS if it will get enough traction, saying: “We will explore the viability of putting webOS on devices, just as we do for other leading operating systems.”

HP has not detailed the roadmap for webOS, but plans to:

  • The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the webOS platform
  • HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
  • Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
  • Software will be provided as a pure open source project

This announcement is a complete overturn from previous plans of abandoning webOS or finding a buyer to pay for it. It seems that nobody was interested in buying it, or HP did not find someone willing to pay as much as they asked for.

webOS’ road has been pretty bumpy so far. HP bought the OS from Palm in April 2010 for $1.2B and invested a lot in its development, culminating with the launch of TouchPad which turned out to be a fiasco. As a result, HP decided to get rid of webOS, and replaced their CEO. The tablet eventually disappeared from shelves after a massive price cut.

It is interesting to see how webOS will fare in the future, if it will get enough attention from the community and from tablet/smartphone manufacturers. It is also interesting to see if it will be a contender for Android. HP promises a “transparent and inclusive governance”, alluding to Google’s approach of developing Android behind close doors and then releasing the code. Will HP’s more open approach that is promised work in a very dynamic market when there seems to be no time for long discussions required by a truly open governance process? Time will tell. 

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