Dec 09, 2011

What is HP going to do about WebOS?

Later today HP is supposed to announce the fate of WebOS. What makes sense? Sell it? Kill it off? Keep supporting it? Is there really a reason for WebOS to continue to exist, and who would miss it is it disappears?

UPDATE: Looks like HP is shutting down all support for WebOS. http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/16/hp-shuts-down-webos-support-january-2015/

Well, now we know, open source it is for WebOS.  I don't really see how it can compete against the open source elephant in the room, Android.  Yeah, yeah, Android is sort of a hybrid open source, but still, it has tremendous market penetration, and I don't see an easy path for WebOS to achieve anything similar.  It is also worth noting that one of the original members of the WebOS development team, Matias Duarte, is now at Google, although I am not sure how much his background at HP working on WebOS has directly been utilized by Google in Android development.   


While there may be people that play around with WebOS, I can't really see it being developed in a serious way.  The hardware environment is very different with WebOS than it is with most other open source software, in that a smartphone is not a PC/server.  I can't see many people with the resources, either of time, effort or expertise, that are required for integration with mobile devices.  Very few OSS project succeed, even on PCs.  Two that come to mind, Linux and MySQL, had a lot of financial backing and expertise behind their success, they were not the fruit of individual hobbyists working on solo projects.  So I would expect if WebOS is much beyond a intellectual exercise for individuals, it will require an investment by a commercial entity with the resources to spend on development and with a target market for their efforts.  

Apparently they have decided to open source the code.

HP donates WebOS to open sourcers

"A statement from the company said it would make the underlying code behind WebOS available under an open source licence. It said developers, partners and HP's own engineers could then "deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace".

The firm added that it intended to be "an active participant and investor in the project".

Analysts say the decision secures the platform's future, at least in the short to medium term."
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