HP to Open Source WebOS

Hewlett Packard’s very public abandonment of webOS filled the headlines this summer, with talk of companies such as HTC and Samsung being attached to possibly buy the software, and the absolute insanity of HP’s ‘fire sale’ to clear the remainder of their TouchPad tablet stock.

Since then it has been quiet, bar some more rumours on everyone from Amazon to LG putting in an offer for webOS; until late last week, when HP finally announce what they planned to do with their $1.2 billion acquisition. The answer is, they’ll not be selling webOS but making it an open source platform instead.

The press release sings the praises of the operating system, saying it’s the ‘only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud connected and scalable’ and that users can enjoy a ‘fast, immersive experience’. The open source code will be available to outside developers and hardware manufacturers who can continue to develop the software and help produce, in the words of HP’s CEO Meg Whitman, ‘a new generation of devices, applications and services’.

What about HP, will they also develop new hardware?  Not yet, no, however they have indicated they’ll continue evaluating webOS and could use it in the future, meaning that if the platform is embraced by the open source community they would be only too pleased to offer some new hardware. You know, to fill the gap in the market they helped create.

So, good news for webOS, a great platform for enterprising developers to really make something exciting. It’s going to be fascinating to not only see new software coming from independent developers, but also whether any of the big name manufacturers choose to put webOS to work on their hardware; whether it’s mobile, print or even something like set-top boxes.

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