HP kills the platform again: Open webOS not for existing HP devices

Summary:HP tried to soften its abandonment of the webOS platform by making it open source. Open webOS just got a major update and is readying the full release but it can't be used on "existing devices". How many times can HP publicly kill off webOS?

JK RIP TouchPad

The webOS story is a sad and bizarre tale by any standards. The mobile platform and gadgets produced by Palm didn't catch the public's eye and was bought by HP for a boatload of cash. HP threw its massive weight behind webOS in a token effort, only to kill all webOS devices.

The much-ballyhooed TouchPad tablet was killed along with all webOS phones mere days after it hit the market. HP apparently lost its taste for the highly competitive mobile game and shut the entire platform down. In an effort to soften the blow of yanking the rug out from under its customers the company made a big deal out of offering webOS to the open source community.

Open webOS is the result of that grand gesture, with HP working with open source developers to get a full-featured verson of the platform out into the free world.

The official Open webOS blog is making a lot of noise with the impending first full release of the open source effort that aims to produce a solid platform going forward. Instead of the kudos HP seems to be looking for, a little statement buried in the blog post and uncovered by webOS Nation has upset existing webOS customers (there are a few left).

For Open webOS we are aiming for support on future hardware platforms where SoC’s support Linux 3.3+ kernel and where open source replacements for proprietary components are integrated. Existing devices cannot be supported because of those many proprietary components, including graphics, networking and lack of drivers for a modern kernel (but of course, there is the Community Edition for those interested in improving the TouchPad).

Reead that second sentence from the official Open webOS Project blog again. You read that correctly, Open webOS that HP so graciously gave to the open source world will not work on any existing webOS device. That means it will never work on the TouchPad nor any of the webOS phones owned by HP's loyal customer base.

Is the inability to run on existing devices due to insufficient hardware? No, it's due to the "many proprietary components" that preclude ever running Open webOS. That's strange since HP, which is behind the Open webOS effort, also owns the existing HP webOS line.

To be fair the support for the Linux 3.3+ kernel is a legitimate reason for the lack of existing webOS device support. That inability doesn't seem to apply to Android, however, as the homebrew community was able to port Android to the TouchPad even before webOS was put into the open source community.

There is the Community Edition of webOS for existing webOS hardware customers. It isn't the full version of Open webOS nor does it have all the bells and whistles, but it runs.

So basically HP has killed webOS yet again as far as existing HP webOS customers are concerned. HP owns the hardware  that prevents using Open webOS so it's not like they couldn't find a way for it to be used. They just don't want to.

Never has a company so thoroughly killed a platform and abandoned its loyal customers as HP with webOS. All the while expecting them to thank HP for the open sourcing of the webOS platform which they can't fully use to extend the life of the hardware they paid for. It's safe to say for existing customers webOS is dead. Again.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Mobile OS, Open Source

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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