HP’s webOS now open source, to Compete with Apple’s iOS?

On Friday, HP announced that they are officially open sourcing their popular webOS software. This comes after a long conflict, where the webOS software was excellent and widely accepted by consumers, but the hardware that ran the OS felt cheap and “easily breakable”.

After Palm’s acquisition by HP, and a revamp of the hardware, HP still failed to make an impact with great hardware.

With its TouchPad experiencing decline in sales, HP figured that open sourcing was the only option left before closing up shop in webOS altogether. By open sourcing, HP is giving way to leading phone manufacturers, such as HTC and Samsung to use the software on better hardware.

“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 will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. Developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers can deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace.”

After an Apple like approach to the in house development of software and hardware HP has given up and is discontinuing its mobile hardware effort. However, according to a report from ZDNet, the open sourcing of webOS could lead to competition against Google’s Android, which is currently open sourced and is available on a number of phones. This could also pose as competition to iOS, by taking on a similar strategy to Android.

webOS could potentially sell more of its software on more smartphones, and possibly outsell Apple’s iPhone shipments. Apple continues to lead the manufacturing side of the market, but ultimately is behind on the number of smartphones with iOS. HP CEO Meg Whitman, in an interview with The Verge, revealed details about the open sourcing of webOS and also mentions that HP is still planning to use webOS on future tablet products, indicating the company is not abandoning mobile hardware entirely.

Will HP be creating any new webOS hardware?

Meg: The answer to that is yes but what I can’t tell you is whether that will be in 2012 or not. But we will use webOS in new hardware, but it’s just going to take us a little longer to reorganize the team in a quite different direction than we’ve been taking it in the past.

Are we talking printers? Or tablets and phones?

Meg: In the near term what I would imagine — and this could change, in full disclosure — is I would think tablets, I do not believe we will be in the smartphone business again.


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