HP: WebOS, Enyo app framework goes open source

Summary:There are two reads on the WebOS news: HP couldn't find a reasonable buyer or the company is betting it can take off on its own.

Hewlett-Packard said it is open sourcing WebOS and the Enyo application framework.
Company officials told ZDNet that open sourcing WebOS was the best move after the company reviewed the various possibilities for the mobile operating system. There are two reads on the WebOS news: HP couldn't find a reasonable buyer or the company is betting it can take off on its own. HP's WebOS was a casualty when the company exited the tablet and smartphone business. HP acquired WebOS via the Palm acquisition, a deal that looked interesting at the time, but amounted to a $1.2 billion sinkhole. New HP CEO Meg Whitman, who took over in September, now has the largest looming issues for the company resolved. She completed the Autonomy deal, decided to keep the PC unit and now has open sourced WebOS. More: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout | HP: WebOS, Enyo app framework goes open source | CNET: Sorry, WebOS is doomed to fail | webOS’ potential: A headache for iOS, Android? | HP to make webOS open source; is it just prolonging the end? | HP open-sources WebOS, but will anyone develop for it? | Why open-source WebOS has legs: because people fear Google In some respects, the WebOS move is savvy. HP, which probably could have sold the OS for something, decided that WebOS could attract developers as an open source project. And given that Apple's iOS and Android dominate the smartphone landscape, the WebOS bet makes sense. Smartphone carriers will need some kind of hedge. By open sourcing WebOS, HP could find a following for the mobile platform. What's next? HP releases the WebOS source code and evaluates what relevance it has among developers. Officially, HP will evaluate WebOS as it would any other platform when choosing whether to use it. In reality, the WebOS outcome could be binary: Either developers keep it going or it dies in an open source graveyard. Often, code is open sourced as a last ditch effort to stay relevant. Related: HP: If you want folks to hack the TouchPad, then Open Source it. Here's the full statement:
PALO ALTO, CA--(Marketwire - Dec 9, 2011) - HP (NYSE: HPQ) today announced it will contribute the webOS software to the open source community. HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices. webOS offers a number of benefits to the entire ecosystem of web applications. For developers, applications can be easily built using standard web technologies. In addition, its single integrated stack offers multiplatform portability. For device manufacturers, it provides a single web-centric platform to run across multiple devices. As a result, the end user benefits from a fast, immersive user experience. "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. Beginning today, developers and customers are invited to provide input and suggestions at http://developer.palm.com/blog/.
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Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Mobile OS, Open Source, Operating Systems

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Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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