HP Decides to Contribute webOS to Open Source–Who Wins?

Back in February, HP announced the Veer, Pre 3, and TouchPad to compete with iOS. Six months later, the company reported they were discontinuing webOS hardware (that led to $99 TouchPad firesales). WebOS was orchestrated by former Apple engineer, Jon Rubinstein, when he moved to Palm, eventually acquired by HP.

Today, HP has even bigger news, as they have declared webOS is going truly Open Source:

“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.

HP will engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open source project under a set of operating principles:

  • The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the webOS platform
  • HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
  • Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
  • Software will be provided as a pure open source project

HP also will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the community in the near future along with a plan for the remaining components of the user space.

What does this mean (no, not a double rainbow)? It means hardware manufacturers now access to a new, fully capable mobile operating system, aside from Android OS (which, is still ‘open’). Consumers will get more choice, and it will be interesting to see how OEMs respond to this announcement. WebOS was seen as a ‘true’ competitor to iOS. It’s too bad HP decided to abandon the platform so suddenly.

Anyone out there still using a webOS device?