HP WebOS and its Open Future

December 12, 2011, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

It all began last year when HP acquired WebOS and Palm for $1.2 billion.

And then, former CEO Leo Apotheker decided to ditch the mobile platform, and the hardware as well, just after the TouchPad failed to work wonders in the market.

The current CEO, Meg Whitman, took aver and has now decided to keep WebOS, but by converting it into an open-source project.

Now let us recall what happened with Symbian when it went open source. Basically, it was a failure because Nokia could not attract the developers to help out the platform. And, the Finnish company ditched it in favor of Microsoft Windows Phone.

That being said, one can’t help but wonder if the HP WebOS plan is going the same way. It seems HP can only try to keep WebOS as an actively developed operating system for tablets.

Also, ‘an opportunity to significantly improve applications and Web services for the next generation of devices’ is not exactly a statement that makes developers come crashing in.

There is another thing as well –  app support. WebOS does not really come with the ability to let people play games or post status updates. But there is Android out there, the open-source OS with plenty of apps and a wide range of capabilities.

Looks like Google will benefit from it either way. If open sourcing WebOS works out, it expands the horizon of the whole concept of open sourcing. If it does not, well, Android will still be the winner.

Well, there could be a little comfort as well, If you can build a vibrant community around a free product that your competitor charges for, you can steal a little of that competitor’s thunder, like Yahoo does with Hadoop.

Small comfort, though.

What do you feel?

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