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HP to open-source webOS, own hardware still dead

updated 01:55 pm EST, Fri December 9, 2011

HP to open-source webOS code

HP at its all-hands meeting Friday said it was open-sourcing webOS. Both the Enyo app framework and the OS itself would be published under a license. The company expected to "continue to be active" in making and supporting webOS, but mobile hardware would have to come from others.

"By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices," CEO Meg Whitman said in a statement.

The move keeps the former Palm team working at HP and could see third-party phone makers take up webOS as an alternative to Android. For HP, though, it marks the more formal end to any near-term plans for webOS phones and tablets. The failure of the TouchPad at its pre-cancellation prices led to an abrupt stop to production, but hopes had existed that former CEO Leo Apotheker's forced exit would revive devices. Rumors had circulated of talks with Intel and others to sell the division and restart internal hardware work.

Sony Ericsson has said it wouldn't rule out using webOS in the future, although it's currently only devoted to Android.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2002


    Oh boy!

    Nobody wants to buy let's make it free.

    Hint to HP: Stick to making printers.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2008


    Not a bad idea

    At least they're not outright killing WebOS, which, while not a real threat or alternative to iOS and Android, could be considered a "pretty decent mobile OS" for what it is.

  1. qazwart

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2001


    There could be some logic here...

    Now that WebOS is open source, another company can make a WebOS device without worrying about competing against the company that controls it. Google, which controls Android, now controls Motorola, so Google might not be a good partner if you want to make cell phones and tablets.

    There's also a good possibility that HP will do a better job at managing the code. Every time Google puts out a new version of Android, they work with one and only one company to produce a template platform. That means a company that competes against that chosen manufacturer now finds itself six months behind. And, Google doesn't post the code until it is good and ready to. And, the code posted is really incomplete.

    Let's say ZTE wants to make it big in the smart phone and tablet market here in the U.S. They can try Windows Phone, but each chip maker chooses one primary and one secondary partner to manufacture the device. ZTE probably won't get chosen, so Windows it out.

    Google might never approve ZTE as an Android manufacturer, so ZTE could take the Android code (when and if it is published), fill in the missing pieces, and hope for the best. However, they'll be constantly behind their competition.

    However, ZTE could build a WebOS device, and if HP manages the code as a true open source project, ZTE doesn't have to worry about being a second tier provider. They have the same access as everyone else.

    The problem is that Barnes & Noble's Nook and Amazon's Kindle have already chosen Android as their OS (although in a very non-approved way). An open sourced WebOS would have been perfect for both of them.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Mhmm. Sure.

    "but mobile hardware would have to come from others"

    Yeah, and that's totally about to happen. Because, you can be 100% sure that HP will stick to the decision to continue to develop webOS. They won't let you down. They know what they're doing and can be trusted to commit to this thing.


  1. The Vicar

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2009


    I love the vagueness

    It will be offered under "A License". That tells me everything I want to know!

    Translation: "we want to try and get those FOSS retards to do our work for us without charging anything, but we don't want to give up ownership and control in case webOS someday becomes worth using, so we're trying to figure out a license which will prevent anyone from forking the code and leaving us out in the cold. That means no GPL, BSD, MIT, or Artistic licenses. Our lawyers are working on writing something from scratch even as we speak."

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