HP opts to make webOS open source [UPDATED]

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: December 9, 2011

Palm Pre 2

The wait for a webOS decision is finally over, as HP announced today that it's decided to open source the platform. In a press release issued moments ago, HP said that it plans to continue to develop and support webOS but that it will also make the underlying code available to anyone under an open source license. The company will also be making Enyo, webOS's application framework, available to users "in the near future." HP makes no mention of any plans to produce new hardware in its announcement, but it does point out that other hardware manufacturers are free to tinker with and enhance the OS and that the decision to open source brings the opportunity to improve apps and services "for the next generation of devices."

So there's your webOS decision. It's great to finally see HP make a move that we've been waiting for since Leo Apotheker's decision to "discontinue operations" on webOS hardware back in August, and many (myself included) are glad that the platform wasn't sold off to someone interested in its patents. Of course, now that webOS is available as open source software, you have to wonder what the future has in store for it. As awesome as it would be to see new webOS hardware, HP doesn't seem to be in any hurry to pump out new devices, meaning the odds of getting new products depends on whether or not some other company really likes what it sees in the open source development and decides to take a risk. What do you all make of HP's decision? Anyone think that we'll be seeing any new webOS hardware in the future? 

UPDATE: In a FAQ explaining the decision to open source webOS, HP says that current webOS device owners will continue to receive updates in the future, reiterating that it plans to remain active in its support for the platform. As far as hardware goes, HP says it "will explore the viability of putting webOS on devices, just as we do for other leading operating systems." It adds that as an open source webOS gains steam in market, any number of other companies may produce "several different types of devices."

UPDATE 2: Looks like HP may end up pushing out more webOS hardware after all. In an interview with The Verge, HP CEO Meg Whitman said that HP will create new devices at some point, though she was unsure of whether we would see them in 2012 or not. When asked which kinds of products HP might release, Whitman said that tablets are a possibility but that she doesn't believe that HP "will be in the smartphone business again." So no new handsets, but there is a chance for some new slates. Encouraging!

HP to Contribute webOS to Open Source

HP to enable creativity of the community to accelerate the next-generation web-centric platform

PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 9, 2011

HP today announced it will contribute the webOS software to the open source community.

HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.

webOS offers a number of benefits to the entire ecosystem of web applications. For developers, applications can be easily built using standard web technologies. In addition, its single integrated stack offers multiplatform portability. For device manufacturers, it provides a single web-centric platform to run across multiple devices. As a result, the end user benefits from a fast, immersive user experience.

“webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. “By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.”

HP will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. Developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers can deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace.

HP will engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open source project under a set of operating principles:

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

HP also will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the community in the near future along with a plan for the remaining components of the user space.

Beginning today, developers and customers are invited to provide input and suggestions at http://developer.palm.com/blog/.

About HP

HP creates new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society. The world’s largest technology company, HP brings together a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure to solve customer problems. More information about HP (NYSE: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com.

Via The Verge (1), (2), HP