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

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?

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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

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11 comments
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  • NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    Come on HP!

    Even Nokia was a bit more dedicated when they open sourced symbian
    the_tyrant
  • Make no mistake, HP is very ill.

    This shows HP is completely disfunctional and completely disconnected from their customers. We were staunch HP customers for years, but with failures in every single way from laptops, servers, and services to emerging technologies like tablets. For every $100 million they spend on bland advertising, it's negated by idiotic decisions like this.

    All of the people who understood customer satisfaction are long gone, and the only people left are so consumed with infighting they don't have time to talk to us, the people with the money. It's the perfect prescription for a death spiral.
    terry flores
  • HP is all but dead

    abandoning web OS leave it pretty much opens webos to others it seems to fit in with the end of the PC era Cloud driven mobile device platform ..

    I see microsoft moving on in the industry pretty much with out the OEM partners I believe Surface and all other forms of it coming from microsoft in the future was the begining of the end for the rest yeah there is talk they are developing tablets and ultra books for win 8 I think win 8 will be the last shared plat form from MS ..

    dell is slowly inching it's way to linux I think that move most likely will go a long way for them HP HAD webos not well accepted earlyer on palm pilot was a bit ahead of its time I think everyone wasnt quite ready for the reality check just yet . .

    i think between the new OS platform the new hardware plat form pulling Xbox out of the living room porting it to all win8 devices the cloud service moving office anfd other MS software to the cloud they have enough with there business clas users and the hoplessly addicted to pull this off and make Suface avable at anyu price they choose sucessfully even the $1000 to $2000 range ..
    jadtechnic
  • HP doesn't know what to do with itself.

    HP has to choose whether they are going to be the maker of consumer products or a professional services company. Until they make up their minds (or remake themselves with multiple independent divisions) they will continue to make blunder-after-blunder.
    M Wagner
  • As an otherwise happy Touchpad user

    this is very disappointing.
    slfisher@...
  • So Long WebOS

    For a while there, I fervently hoped that I could get WebOS running on Nexus 7 hardware or a Nook Tablet or even a Raspberry Pi. But they have so thoroughly killed it (again), it's just not worth the effort. And after all the bait-and-switch going on with MeeGo (I mean Tizen), I've all but given up on a reasonable, open source OS for tablets.

    In my book, the game is over.
    Olderdan
  • Need real computer people at the top

    Not these "business" people and glorified accountants that rise to CEOship. It's so sad to see a company like HP controlled by bean counters and out-maneuvered government candidates. They need computer savvy people, not accountants and politicians at the reign.
    33Nick
  • You Missed What They Said!

    "Where open-source replacements for proprietary components are integrated" -- don't you realize what that means? It means devices without opaque firmware blobs! How many such devices exist today? Not many!
    ldo17
  • proprietary drivers

    What this is really all about are the proprietary drivers needed to run the guts of the HP Touchpad. One of the biggest stubling blocks has been that the camera drivers, controlled by Qualcomm, are proprietary and cannot be reverse engineered to get the camera to run.

    In order for WebOS to be truly open source, it has to ditch those drivers or negotiate with their partners to open them up as well. Since the latter would require money, audios support for the HP Touchpad, Veer, etc.

    As someone who picked up a $100 HP Touchpad and immediately put CM7 (later CM9) on it, I could not care less. WebOS was never a great OS to begin with and all of their app developers have long ago fled to other platforms.

    RIP WebOS.
    nategator
  • HP-BM

    It looks like HP needs to merge with IBM so that they *BOTH* can die a quick yet horrible death.
    jelabarre
  • HP won't support Open WebOS on exisiting Touchpads

    Hey HP. How about this: I bought my last piece of anything you own when I bought the Touchpad. From now on: No printers, no PC, nada, zip, zilch, nothing. I am abandoning your printers and their high priced cartridges, the laptop I bought two years ago, and anything else that says HP on it. And hey, I will want to share this with as many of my friends as I can. It used to be that each person knew roughly 9 people they could influence on products. Now, thanks to social media, it is more like 900 each. How much is 900 times 900. Eat a big fat toad sandwich.
    dadogg2