Hewlett-Packard Co. announced on Friday that it is planning to make its mobile operating system webOS an open-source software available freely to the public.
HP acquired webOS in April 2010 when it purchased Palm Inc. With a $1.2 billion acquisition, the Palo Alto tech giant showed great intentions to develop webOS that would compete with Android and other mobile operating systems. The company was planning to use the software in multiple new products such as smartphones, tablet computers, and printers.
WebOS was first released on Palm Pre smartphone on June 6, 2009 and later on HP Pre 3 and HP Veer in 2011. It was also used to power HP TouchPad tablet computer, which was released this June. Unfortunately, these devices never got popular among general consumers. WebOS never became a real threat to Google's Android OS or Apple's iOS.
HP's problems grew as a shortage of WebOS users pushed app developers away. This in turn subsequently led to even fewer users.
HP's decision to make WebOS open-source is said to be creative. There are examples that achieved great success after turning to open-source software. AOL's Netscape Web browser was made open-source after it failed to compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser. And that open-source community (Mozilla) later became the leading competitor and threat to IE when they developed the Mozilla Firefox.
Another good example of triumphant accomplishment of the open-source community is the prosperous Android community. If you decide you can't afford to get in the game fully with both feet, absolutely at least keep your options open, Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett said.
HP said it will continue to be active in the development of WebOS and it hopes to blaze a new path for the next generation of mobile devices by combining infinite power of the open source community and the creative WebOS platform.
Having announced that WebOS will become open-source, HP CEO Meg Whitman said in an interview that the company still plans to create new WebOS mobile device.
Starting Friday, HP's WebOS Developer blog for developers, hardware manufacturers, partners, HP engineers and other customers will be receiving inputs and ideas.