HP keeps webOS alive as an open source project

By on December 9, 2011, 3:00 PM

After months of uncertainty HP has finally come to a decision on the future of webOS: the operating system will live on as open source. Suddenly this weekend's final $99 TouchPad fire sale is looking more tempting. In a press release announcing the news, HP said it will continue to be active in the development and support of the mobile platform, and detailed a few operating principles to get the project on track like pursuing "good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation."

"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 also will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the open source community. The move could have an interesting effect on the market as smartphone manufacturers look to diversify away from Android. Most will probably take a wait-and-see approach, however, as Windows Phone is currently the more likely candidate to take off as the No. 3 smartphone platform. The good news is that HP has already put enough webOS devices out there to get open source developers interested in tinkering with the platform.

HP has previously said that there's a great deal of interest from manufacturers on the platform. Although it would seem the company couldn't get a reasonable offer for it, at least they are giving it a chance to take off on its own with the help of the open source community. It remains to be seen if developers respond to this last ditch effort to keep webOS alive or if the operating system will continue to fade into irrelevancy.

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