HP Turns WebOS Open Source, Could Offer Manufacturers Alternative to Android

webos banner
HP today announced that it will be open sourcing its webOS mobile operating system acquired when it purchased Palm last year. The fate of webOS has been unclear since the company's August announcement that it would be spinning off its PC division and exiting the tablet and smartphone markets. HP later reversed course on its planned PC unit spinoff, but has continued to weigh its options for webOS amid the discontinuation of its mobile hardware effort.

“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.

As ZDNet notes, the open sourcing of webOS adds a competitor for Android, offering hardware manufacturers wary of relying too much on Google's open source platform an option to diversify their own slates of products.

Android is the king of mobile as well as open source operating systems. However, carriers and smartphone makers want to diversify away from Android as well as Apple’s iOS. WebOS could be a nice diversification tool that could splinter Android support. The other reality: The WebOS UI is better than Android’s, but Google’s platform has the apps.

The availability of webOS for use by numerous manufacturers could also threaten Microsoft and its efforts to make Windows Phone competitive by partnering with Nokia.

Update: In an interview with The Verge, HP CEO Meg Whitman reveals that the company is planning to use webOS on future tablet products, indicating the company is not abandoning mobile hardware entirely. No timeframe for such products has been announced.

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.

Popular Stories

Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Wednesday June 19, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...
Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
back to school 2024

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launches, Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Thursday June 20, 2024 4:29 am PDT by
Apple has launched its annual Back to School promotion for college students in the United States. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with any new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac, and a $100 gift card with the purchase of any new M4 iPad ...
iOS 17

Apple Releases First Public Beta of iOS 17.6

Thursday June 20, 2024 10:18 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the first betas of upcoming iOS 17.6 and iPadOS 17.6 updates to public beta testers, with the betas coming a few days after the initial iOS and iPadOS 17.6 developer betas. Public beta testers can get the beta by opening up the Settings app, going to the Software Update section, tapping on the "Beta Updates" option, and toggling on the iOS 17 or iPadOS 17 Public Beta....

Top Rated Comments

chrmjenkins Avatar
164 months ago
Probably the best outcome for everybody.

HP wouldn't have done this if they could have gotten a buyer that offered any decent amount, so the community wins.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjohnstone Avatar
164 months ago
Yes!!!
This will have Google pulling their hair out.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
maflynn Avatar
164 months ago
Wow, that's cool. HP made a great decision that will not only benefit its current customers but also hopefully add an alternative to android
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kasei Avatar
164 months ago
Interesting move HP. This puts you back in play and may even slow Android down a little. I wouldn't be surprised if the Military jumps on a version of this as MeeGo has turned out to be a major disappointment.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dethmaShine Avatar
164 months ago
That's great.

How open will it be though?

The same way as carriers murder android with junk-ware?
The same way Android phones hardly get an update?
...
...

I hope HP will prioritise these things and make it a better open-source software than Android.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rodimus Prime Avatar
164 months ago
Not anymore. "Open" does not = "true competitor" to a successful, closed, controlled vertically-integrated platform.

It's basically a piñata now. Everyone will try to break it open and grab whatever falls out.

and yet Android is gaining market share from iOS.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)