Move over, Android. On Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard laid out a plan to make its webOS platform open source, in an effort to replicate some of Google's successful strategy in getting its open source OS adopted.
HP said that it was aiming to make the source code available under an open source license by September. Accompanying the open source announcement, HP said it was now releasing versions 1.0 and 2.0 of its developers' tool for the platform, Enyo.
'Write Once, Run Anywhere'
One particular feature of Enyo could make it appealing to developers -- the "write once, run anywhere" ability to write a single app that works on devices and in Web browsers, for iOS and Android platforms in addition to webOS. Silverlight and Flash will be supported through plug-ins.
Bill Veghte, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at HP, said in a statement that the open sourcing of webOS was "a decisive step toward meeting our goal of accelerating the platform's development" and making it part of an ecosystem of Web apps.
The source code for webOS, including Enyo, will be made available under the Apache License, Version 2.0, which is the same license under which Android is available. This means that there is already an acceptance of this licensing approach among a range of manufacturers, carriers and developers.
The source code will be made available in monthly steps, culminating in the full release by September. An open webOS beta will be available in August, to be followed by the full open webOS 1.0 the next month.
HP obtained webOS in its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010, but the resulting webOS products, including the Palm Pre smartphone and the TouchPad tablet, have had meager sales. As of August, the products are no longer being manufactured, and the company announced last month that it would release the OS as open source.
Strategy Not Clear
With webOS on a clear path to becoming open source, there is a possibility that HP may once again build webOS products. HP CEO Meg Whitman has said that the company is considering the release of new webOS-based products sometime next year.
The company's chief technology officer, Sam Greenblatt, has told news media that the products would not necessarily be mobile or desktop ones, but could include TVs and home entertainment systems, auto-based navigation systems, and other devices. Any device that can run Linux can use webOS.
Al Hilwa, program director for development at industry research firm IDC, said that it "remains to be seen" if an open source webOS can catch on. It's also unclear, he said, "exactly what HP is trying to achieve" with this strategy.
He added that some of the pieces of webOS, such as Enyo, may end up being more interesting to developers and others than the entire platform.
Posted: 2012-01-27 @ 6:39am PT
This is a very positive development I can't wait to put, a more powerful, WebOS back in my Handheld :)