HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

Summary: WebOS' ultimate open source fate remains to be seen, but rest assured there could be some disruption ahead for the smartphone industry.

SHARE:
Hewlett-Packard has decided to open source its WebOS in a bet that the mobile operating system can garner developer interest and become relevant again. WebOS' ultimate fate remains to be seen, but rest assured there could be some disruption ahead for the smartphone industry. Also: 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? Among the key ripple effects to ponder:
  • The impact on Android. 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.
  • Open source developers. WebOS will be a new toy and will initially garner interest. One interesting thought is that Android and WebOS code could ultimately merge into either a frankenOS or a threat to Apple's iOS.
  • Device makers. HTC, Samsung and others are likely to watch WebOS popularity closely. Why? The WebOS could be a nice hedge against Android's power. These Android device makers are already in a race to the bottom.
  • Windows Phone. Most carriers want a No. 3 platform and presumed Windows Phone and Nokia would be a likely candidate. WebOS could take off and be another headache for Microsoft.
  • Research in Motion. RIM also has its big OS bet with the BlackBerry 10 OS---formerly BBX. WebOS could steal RIM's thunder again. Conversely, WebOS could be an option for RIM at a later date.
  • Developers. If the WebOS platform gains traction developers could have one more avenue to monetize applications. Diversification could be a boon.
  • HP's role in the mobile ecosystem. The open source bet is a nice Christmas present for developers. If WebOS surges, HP will look like it turned lemons into lemonade. If not, HP at least tried.
Related stories

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Android, Google, Mobile OS, Operating Systems

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

47 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Awesome!

    My knowledge about WebOS goes no deeper than a vague recognition of its name. But that's about to change in the next few minutes!

    "frankenOS" That made me LOL :)
    cameigons
    • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

      @cameigons I think you mean 'FrankenOS's Monster'
      rufusthorne
  • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

    webOS UI and multitasking is definitely better than android's. I really hope that we get to see it in successful commercial products.
    xeptf4
    • You may see them in Android

      @xeptf4

      When webOS goes open source, what is to stop Google from lifting its best functionality and plopping it right into Android?
      RationalGuy
      • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

        @RationalGuy Of the 3 OS's (iOS, Android, WebOS), WebOS owns the most valuable patents. When HP wanted to sell WebOS, the buyers wanted the patents most of all to escape Microsoft and Apple's reign of lawsuit tyranny. If you have WebOS, you are untouchable.

        Google cannot take any functionality from WebOS because they'd probably infringe patents. They're also 2 completely different operating systems.
        Fat Albert 1
      • Open Source = License to Use Patents

        @Fat Albert 1

        That's the whole point of open source. It's fee to be used by anyone, including Google, as long as they release their modifications back to the community. That means if webOS does something better than Android currently does, they can pull it out and integrate it into Android. It probably wouldn't take much to get code from one to run on the other, especially if you're Google and have a giant staff of amazingly talented programmers.
        RationalGuy
  • More Open then Android?

    this could be interesting if the community is able to contribute to the source which my understanding is not possible with Android today, in addition a forward view of the roadmap and features. If this is true then it could force Android to be more open to keep the developers truly engaged.
    texas-saluki
  • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

    I hate to rain on WebOS enthusiasts parade but:

    1) Let's not forget that device makers already get Android for free. So it's not like the rise of Android threatens to tie them to an OS that is expensive to license.

    2) The biggest cost to Android phone manufacturers right now is paying Microsoft their patent troll fees, and there are signs that Google is taking an aggressive approach to protecting itself on this front (the purchase of Motorola being exhibit A). Is HP going to be as aggressive in defending WebOS?

    3) Android is Open Source and Google releases source on a regular basis. In addition there is a thriving community of developers modifying and extending the OS.

    So with all that, I'm just not seeing what an Open Source WebOS really brings to the party.
    dsf3g
    • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

      @dsf3g
      Unlike Android, though, H-P could back up any lawsuit threats against WebOS with their Palm patents, which would neutralize any from Microsoft.
      Theseus
      • So what does HP get out of all of this?

        @Theseus They spent a lot of money acquiring WebOS and have little to show for it. How does making it open source benefit HP?

        So they bring in no money from the product, yet they are supposed to spend even more money defending it from patent lawsuits?
        otaddy
      • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

        @otaddy
        And what patent infringements are you talking about? Are you talking about the infringements that have never happened throughout WebOS lifespan and the lawsuits that never happened, even when the Touchpad went firesale and claimed the second best selling tablet title?

        My point is, if they're haven't been any lawsuits on HP yet, there won't be.
        Fat Albert 1
      • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

        @Fat Albert 1

        Not saying there are lawsuits against them now, but they are at risk if some pop up at a later date and they promised to defend.

        So again, I ask. How does HP make money from this? I see that they are exposed to more risk, with little hope of making money.

        But if for some strange reason, WebOS takes off, you can bet the lawsuits will start coming.
        otaddy
    • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

      @dsf3g

      As far as I can tell, WebOS is a complete clean room implementation from HP. It doesn't have any patent issues. (unless you chose the wrong case, of course). It's UI isn't like anyone elses (so that's that out of the window). So what's not to love about it.
      Bozzer
      • Thats for the courts to decide..unfortunately

        @Bozzer And as we have seen before, when it comes to patents, the courts just make stuff up as they go along.
        otaddy
      • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

        @Bozzer All mobile/touch operating systems are infringing on others' patents. HP never got sued for WebOS because they didn't make any money from it.
        K B
      • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

        duplicate
        Theli
      • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

        @Bozzer<br>WebOS is based on Linux, and Microsoft has already sued companies over Linux. If WebOS actually posed a threat to anyone, you can be assured that patent holders involved in the mobile industry will start to file lawsuits. Which is why using WebOS as a "backup plan" against patent litigation is absurd. Its only real defense is that it's unpopular.
        Theli
      • RE: HP open sources WebOS: The fallout

        @Bozzer This isn't how patents work. However, HP got a BIG war chest of patents when they acquired Palm, so attacking webOS in this way probably isn't that smart. I doubt it'll have any serious patent problems, just not for the reasons you suggest.
        jeremychappell
    • Free.. lol. tell the to MS..

      @dsf3g MS is currently making more money from licenses from android than it makes on WinPhone7.. lol..<br><br>it's true that Google gives the OS away but it's not true that the OS is free... all the major player licence from Micrsoft.. HTC, Samsung etc.. the lone hold out is Motorola..<br><br> <a href="http://www.infoworld.com/t/android/microsoft-makes-more-android-windows-smartphones-707" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.infoworld.com/t/android/microsoft-makes-more-android-windows-smartphones-707</a>

      and what will happen when Oracle get's it's money from Google.. or will they come after the manufactures as well..?
      theFunkDoctorSpoc
    • Where's the Beef?

      @dsf3g
      as Clara Peller would say...... ;)

      WIN7+ has MS
      Android has Google
      iOS has Apple

      WebOS has... HP?
      Sorry, not seeing the benefit or ROI from that.

      Not saying it won't but they would need some really "killer" devices to even have a snowball's chance in the hot regions of Hell.....
      rhonin