HP open sources webOS

HP open sources webOS

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.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

HP open sources webOS


It's an empty decision. Are they going to throw money into it the way Google has for Android to really allow it to develop? I don't see that happening. It might stick around for a while, and I'm sure some wonked up version will find its way on to low quality tablets eventually, but, unless a decent hardware company picks it up, it's just going to be a niche for former WebOS users who haven't given up, or crap companies to stick on a barely functional tablet/phone to make a quick buck.

To bad, I really enjoyed WebOS. It taught Apple how to make a phone OS. Someone will pick it up, but until then I'll just keep using iphone.

Way back in the "olden" days I had the Agenda PDA that was using a version of Linux. I don't know who made the hardware, but it was pretty decent for the time. Maybe a small start-up will step in and put WebOS to good use.

iOS came first, but WebOS was better developed. The multitasking and notifications might have given iOS a push in the right direction.
I also loved WebOS, but I have learned to give my love when it's returned and iPhone returns all my love.

Nice chunk of video. Must've been fun wdiaernng around and filming the oddities, mediocrities, and rarities of night time Sydney. I'd love to get the iMovies app for my iPhone 4 just seemed more intended for iPad. Editing a .MOV file on a Windows PC gets old REAL quick, especially since no cheap editors can handle the HD format and I'm simply not paying $100+ dollars for an editor when iMovie is ike $5

"WebOS" came from Apple, or specifically more so ex-Apple employees headed by Jon than Palm. This also explains why so many of the countless features present in early pocket PCs and Palm's own Garnet OS is missing for a handful of good looking and polished enough apps.
Basically the possibility of just a couple dozen Apple employees if given free rein.
And yes WebOS did deserve better even if other than modifying a few iOS concepts into a bigger play and also using Cloud as a sell phrase. I feel WebOS got the "closed but open" combination locked down perfectly even if iOS isn't fully locked down and Android isn't open by any means. Some good potential.
But then again WP7 does too. And Android is gearing up its game. Apple will be forced to go beyond as well in the next 1-2 product cycles. And these are all modern OSes.
Very tough for WP7 and WebOS to fight the good fight.
But who knows. Android succeeded in doing what Microsoft did in the PC space(And attempted again in the mobile space. Problem? They didn't specifically program an OS truly fit for mobile devices and rather tried to cram a stripped Windows into what is now considered very low hardware even if the best at the time.)
WebOS could do so too.

To be fair with HP, when they bought WebOS it was already dead in the water. Although they had the opportunity to make something out of it, they are not responsible for its demise, Palm was.
Rene is carrying his prejudice towards the PC/Windows world and is blaming HP for Palm´s failure.
In the 90´s Palm was Apple, selling devices like water, nothing could go wrong, everybody had a Palm or wanted one, the future was bright. Fast foward ten years and nobody knew who Palm was.

I may very well have to break the laws of physics to disagree with you more.
Palm slipped on key marketing decisions and was limited in it's resources at key moments. HP picked up the ball and ran with it, then stopped, five feet from where they started.
They didn't keep their promises to the faithful. They didn't inform the curious. And they failed to deliver in 30 minutes or less.
HP shattered their own relationships, screwing over consumers, carriers, and retailers. Whatever came before, HP wasn't the victim, here. They killed themselves.

One of my Favorite Desert bus mnomets is when I was just cleaning my room and wasnt paying attention then I hear the muppets song.My other favorite part is when Graham sang frontier psychiatrist

I finally left webOS (for now) 2 weeks ago and got the 4S. Very happy with the decision; however, it's clear that Apple would bury the competition for good if they simply:

  1. Adopted the webOS multitasking scheme and got rid of that DANG HOME BUTTON!
  2. Made their own versions of the Touchstone charger--for the life of me, I just can't fathom why a competitor hasn't copied the Touchstone!! I had one in my office, my bedroom, my car...WTF?!
  3. Synergy.

Apple/iOS has just about everything else. Oh, one more thing:

  1. Open things up and start playin' nice with developers a la the webOS Homebrew crew. If you don't, you never know--they might sneak up on you someday!

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