HP to Open Source webOS

A month after new HP CEO Meg Whitman told the world she needed more time to figure out what the company would do with webOS, the decision has been made. HP will open source the mobile operating system.

However, HP isn’t simply dumping webOS; the company will continue to back the project with (a certain amount of) its resources, but it hopes that the open source community can still make something of it. Presumably, if and when something potentially lucrative comes of it, HP will still be in a position to benefit.

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

This decision is about as fair as it can be. HP is choking on the massive losses it absorbed after dropping $1.2 billion to acquire webOS’ original developer Palm and rolling out several failed webOS-based devices, so the company isn’t going to throw (much more) good money after bad. At the same time, webOS was mostly well-liked, and it deserves a chance to survive under different circumstances.

That’s not to say that webOS is especially likely to find a new foothold in the mobile market. In that hyper-competitive space, plenty of otherwise solid products last but a moment, so there’s no reason to think that webOS will suddenly make a resurgence without the full backing of a big tech company.

Still, stranger things have happened.
Tags:  HP, webOS