HP announced today that they're going to open source the webOS operating system that once upon a time ran Palm Pre and HP Touchpad software, and showed the world how elegant multitasking metaphors and synergistic data handling was meant to be done. Derek Kessler from PreCentral pegs it thusly:
Notably absent from the press release is any mention of hardware, either from HP or possible partners. The open sourcing of webOS brings to a close months of speculation and hand-wringing about what HP would do with the operating system after former CEO Leo Apotheker cancelled hardware development. It’s clear that HP’s conclusion was that it would cost too much for them to try hardware on their own again, while simultaneously they were unable to find a suitor willing to meet HP’s price and conditions for a sale of webOS.
Sad. Bordering on the pathetic. Ultimately HP lacked the innovative spirit of their better days and the testicular fortitude of their peers necessary to blaze a mobile future. So ever tepidly, timidly, they've opted for the least of the worst -- offering a less developed if better looking open source alternative to Android to... whom exactly?
Will Samsung or HTC leave Android for webOS? Would Facebook or Amazon fork webOS instead of Android? Could Verizon or AT&T try to reclaim ownership of the stack with webOS as their starting point?
Say what you want about Google's "openy" plays -- and I've said plenty -- but they've shown the will and tenacity and cunning to make Android a dominant OS platform. HP has shown none of this even when they had the control and the reach to attempt it best.
Now what do they have? And more importantly, what does everyone in the webOS community, from Palm faithful to HP employees to developers to end users have?
Aside from PreCentral.net to give them voice, that is.
webOS may yet achieve something but if it does it will be because of the open source community, in spite of HP.
And it deserved better.