The fate of HP's webOS, which was acquired during the Palm buyout in April of 2010, has been up in the air since HP hit some turbulence in mid-August. From way out in left field, HP announced plans to spin off PSG and pull out of the webOS hardware making business, leaving the possibility of the then-unreleased Pre 3 and the future of the newly released HP TouchPad up in the air. Abruptly, HP announced a fire sale to get rid of any straggling hardware and to quickly put the Pre 3 to death.

Since then, however, Leo Apotheker has been relieved of his duties and has been replaced by Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of eBay. Whitman reversed many of Apotheker's hasty plans, like spinning off PSG, and put the future of webOS up for debate. We have heard plans of licensing or even selling the software to another company, but we weren't truly sure which way it would go. Earlier today, HP had an all-hands meeting to decide the fate of webOS once and for all.

The verdict? HP has decided to open source webOS. As our own Alex Wagner explained earlier:

"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.'"

Great. Now what? In order for this to even mean much of anything, as Cam Bunton suggests above, hardware makers have to be on board. But who? Who would possibly want webOS after all it has been through? It's practically taboo, especially to all of the wireless providers in the States and UK. No webOS device has managed an impressive sales day in comparison to their Android and iOS counterparts. If by the off chance a manufacturer does decide to use it, webOS could actually survive this third chance. But I'm not holding my breath.

Originally, when we had heard webOS might be sold or licensed, prior to Whitman steering the ship, I made some speculations as to who would be a great candidate to fit their devices with webOS. Motorola, Samsung, HTC and LG were among the few possible. But things have obviously changed in the last five months.

Months ago, we learned that Motorola was considering creating their own web-based mobile platform. They were getting sued left and right by Microsoft and Apple, and Google was doing little to protect their partners who were neck deep in legal battles ... over Google's software. At the midpoint of August, however, Google announced that they plan to buy Motorola Mobility for both hardware and a larger patent portfolio.

Samsung has also come forward to say they were in the market for yet another mobile platform, but they were not going to jump into anything without serious thought first. Many – even I – suggested that webOS would be the perfect candidate for Sammy. The clean, rounded corners of the interface and sleek and powerful devices of Samsung would be a match made in heaven. However, Samsung did say they were not interested in buying webOS. And a licensing deal was withing the realm of possibility until Sammy paired up with Intel for Project Tizen, an open source project which is building off of the late MeeGo platform.

Out of the major manufacturers in the US, there are only a few left, like HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson who might consider using and developing webOS. We don't know if SE or LG are in the market for their own mobile platform or not, but we know HTC is. That said, I love HTC and I love webOS, but they simply would not make a nice pair. HTC's main goal would to nest Sense UI as deeply into the software as possible, and in truth, that's the last thing webOS needs. Then again, people love their Sense UI, and it may be the only hope webOS has left.

Personally, I wouldn't care to see LG take to webOS either. I'm not particularly a fan of anything LG has ever done in the mobile space. The webOS platform deserves a fighting chance and I don't think LG will be the one to deliver that. Then there is Sony Ericsson, who plans to split in 2012. Sony will undoubtedly be looking for a differentiating factor, and webOS could be the ticket. Again, not holding my breath.

Lest we forget, ZTE is also said to be making a grand appearance in the States in 2012 with a high-end handset of their own. I have no doubt that handset will be powered by Android. But ZTE is looking to make the US market their biggest market for handsets. Making that happen with Android will only prove to be extremely difficult and a very steep mountain to climb. While webOS might not be any easier, coming forth with two different platforms could stir things up for them a bit and help differentiate.

If you were to ask me which OEM I would want to see take webOS under their wing, I would have a terrible time answering. The important thing to consider is that with licensing, much like with Android, HP will not be limited to one manufacturer running with their software. Anyone under an open source license can manipulate webOS and put it on their devices. To be honest, I would like to see several OEMs take on webOS: HTC (half-hearted), Samsung (unlikely) and Sony Ericsson (also unlikely).

Open sourcing was a risky yet noble bet on HP's part. Instead of simply selling it off and making their money while they can, they're giving a twice-dead platform another chance. That's very commendable. So tell me, which manufacturer would you like to see pick up webOS (regardless of the likeliness)? Answer in the poll and give us your thoughts about webOS going open source below!

Image via Engadget

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97 Reactions to this post

"Who should buy webOS (or should it fade away)?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Adrian Salazar Google which it should incorporate into android
Christopher Williams Samsung, or HTC.
Scott Harris I like the Samsung and HTC suggestions. Google has android, Amazon has modified android. RIM has QNX, Microsoft has windows phone, Nokia has symbian. Motorola is owned by Google.
Suzan Thompson What is WebOs
Naeem Hussain Nokia. They make jaw dropping hardware that blows your mind. Awesome.
Jason Ramos webOS is as dead as Symbian. Just let it go
Albert Omar Feliciano Let it Die in peace. R.I.P. WebOS.
Gavin Spencer Marty Google should buy webos for patent protection, much like they did Motorola
Christian Leon I think acer could probably do something with it.
Dina Locklear Ball microsoft or htc
Zach Cline Let it die
Ashish Upadhye Micromax ! hee hee !
Adan Soriano let webOS die in peace.
Tony Drake With android and ios going strong I dwell that its pointless otherwise
Taylor Rentschler I would like apple to pick up the feature were the phone and the web OS tablet connect when they touch!!!
Taylor Lodridge I had a webOS and loved it, it might be nice if google or htc bought it
Shin Wolf none! Because web os is dead already
Cheo Cardona Fucking auto correct SAMSUNG not sanding..SHIT iPhone sometimes I feel like Hmph
Cheo Cardona Change my mind from a previous "like" I hope sanding picks it up cause you guys still come out with those proprietary os bullshit phones and android is like blah on your phones
Jimmy A. Parks Android is the bomb the hell with web os.
Anthony Dunlap Google of course and android is the best!
James Ortiz None it sucks ass
Marcus Cadwell I'll throw my vote in for htc. Can you imagine a revamped sense interface that looked more like webos than sense? That.... Is boner worthy
Juan Carlos Munoz Issam has a good idea
John Zanatta Would love to see HTC license it. Their hardware is fantastic.
Equaknox Knox its simplistic,,,for those ppl who will stay with n the box
Sumeet Deshmukh Guys samsung already provide smartphones 4m 3 os's android, wp, bada! I dnt think dat samsung need another one! Here, lg , motorola , sony or htc have the chance to prove themself diffrently!! Htc can buy meego 4m intel and sony can buy webOS
Asher Enciso i love webos, hmmm can i buy it for 20 bucks?
Matt Jackson Google and Webos would be a match made in hell for Apple!
Tyler Neill nobody is buying it , htc and samsung will probably make a few webos phones
Vlad Valentine McBride Kindle or Nook, screw everyone else
Jacob Koehler Amazon, Nokia or Samsung. Does WebOS support multi-cores??
George Millhouse geff go play with your sheepPhone..sorry I mean iPhone
Jon Jones Google buy it and combine it with android. Webos was great at multitasking. One draw back of droid is to keep hitting the back button or home. Id love to use droid like webos and leave and application open and easily move to another and back and fourth
George Millhouse goodbye webos
Mark Fisher Jr. Let it die out.
Geffá Oliveira Google would do crap. Android is not the best, but is the cheapest . I think that HTC or Microsoft (for patents) or Apple (again, for patents).
Fonzy Paniagua It's a great os let Samsung have it !
Reza Syed GOOGLE
Ignacio Gonzalez Google...with the hardware executed by Motorola.
Scott Sorensen Rim. Lolz
Tim Killian I'd grab one.
Kris Sabo Nokia
Joseph Lee Sharp,panasonic,toshiba
Dan J. Quiñones I didn't know google was a manufacturer.. yet I agree that they as a software co. should buy it and integrate some of the features of webos into android. The card and gesture features mostly.
Anthony Torres Ortiz Let it fade away like BB!!!!
Romeo Cyril WebOs, is not going anywhere, it will become a mobile operating platform just like Android.
Kerri Kershaw Anyone who won't neglect it and give it the showcase it deserves!!!
Michael Buchko Jr. Samsung TouchWeb UI. Or Apple iWeb. Or Motorola MotOS/webLUR.
Josh Elmore press the delete button and let it die
Josh Martinez I'd buy web OS if the hardware was stable enough to actually hold its value. My pre turned to shit after a month.
Dan Haski Amazon
Jay Kruer No one can "buy" WebOS anymore...They just open sourced it...did phone dog miss the news? Anyone can make a WebOS phone now, as long as they can write the drivers for the hardware.
Kevin Hager I just want to see hardware support allowing the OS to be installed on Multiple different handsets. I wouldn't mind having a Dual boot up right now.
Tyler Neill htc for sure, webOS is the best is by far,
Brian Mayfield HP should pick it out of th trash & run with it!!!
David Daniel Schwartz The day HTC shows the world a webOS phone, i will jump for joy.
Alex Villarreal Htc or google?
Jeremy Abad I'd like to see another OS on the market...I mean..they should revamp webOS. Keep it simple the way it is, but make it a bit smoother and less bubbly looking. Anyways GO ANDROID, WINDOWS hang in there, and fuck you iOS.
Issam El Kouartey Apple and then they can use the cards feature in ios.
Alex Pierro Anybody in for PhoneDog purchasing it?
Shawn Towle I highly doubt Google would have anything to do with WebOS.
Joel Rivera Google!
Ivan Sencillo Let IT DISAPPEAR! We dont need that crapp!!!! ANDROID ALL THE WAY
Anthony Apodaca Maybe google, I'm sure they can adopt a few features.
Jeff Jay Google
Ryan Gregory Id love to see it on a samsung super AMOLED display with their keyboard overlay...how cool would that be??
Joel Morales Duh! Google! :D
Eric Hook Fade away.
Brian M McCoy Fade away into the setting sun.
Eduardo Lopez fade away it sucks
Steven Basso webOS for life
Eduardo Ordaz No One. Leave it. It will fade away.
Fred Telles fade away, just give it up let dead dogs stay dead
Leroy Langston Samsung wouldn't be a bad idea
Moaz Bambi Google!!
John Cruz let it fade away

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