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HP to keep webOS, make available as an undefined open source project

post #1 of 41
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HP has finally outlined its plans for webOS today, stating that it will "contribute the webOS software to the open source community," apparently because it couldn't find a suitable buyer for the platform.

"HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS," the company announced in a press release moments ago. "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."

Bizarrely, HP didn't specify how it would be sharing webOS, whether as a GPL-style "free to use but don't customize it for use in closed projects" license like Linux, or under a "use it anyway you like" license along the lines of the type of BSD/MIT open source licenses favored by Apple, or under a far more restrictive "shared source" type of license favored by Microsoft.

The announcement of such a licensing decision would have far reaching implications for those who might be interested in using the platform or portions of its technologies. However, such a decision would also depend upon how HP plans to mange its vast portfolio of Palm patents.

Whitman's punt

HP's president and chief executive Meg Whitman instead offered the words, by contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.

Despite its status as a multibillion dollar global corporation, HP was unable to "unleash creativity" or "advance a new generation of applications and devices" on its own over the past year.

The company was widely expected to be a perfect fit for Palm's webOS, given that it is the biggest PC maker worldwide and, in theory, capable of funding expensive development projects through to completion, a problem Palm itself lacked the funds to accomplish.

Instead, HP fired its chief executive behind the $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm and its board hired a new chief executive who lacked experience in running a hardware company, and who decided to convert HP into the kind of enterprise software firm he had run before.

Part of that plan involved spinning off HP's Personal Systems Group, which built all of its computers and was working on new webOS smartphones and tablets. After his ouster, board member Whitman took over as chief executive and announced after several weeks that HP would be retaining its PSG but would continue to deliberate on the fate of webOS, suggesting that there were lots of companies interested in licensing the mobile platform.

No buyer appears for Palm

After months of thinking, HP has announced non-specific plans to make webOS an open source project of some kind, noting that it will "engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open source project."

The project is only defined as involving continued "open development of the webOS platform," where "HP will be an active participant and investor in the project," and efforts will be made to set up "good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation" where "software will be provided as a pure open source project."

HP also said it would contribute its ENYO application framework for webOS to the community in "the near future." Internally, ENYO, which is designed to enable flexible, fast development of web applications, was said to be employed in testing on Apple's iPad, where it ran twice as fast as HP's own hardware, largely because of Apple's more sophisticated JavaScript implementation.



Offering your dog food as FOSS instead of eating it

With the remains of Palm's webOS dripping with mobile-relevant patents and functional technology, HP appears more interested in retaining control of the project and its intellectual property than in monetizing its acquired platform directly, either though a risky licensing program along the lines of Windows Phone 7 (difficult to do in a market dominated by free Android software) or an outright sale of Palm that might have endangered HP's ability to use the webOS software itself.

One report indicated that HP was trying to sell off its Palm assets while "demanding that potential buyers license webOS back to it on the cheap for use in printers."

Whitman seemed to make it clear that HP was abandoning any notion of building new webOS tablets of its own however, instead announcing that HP would be releasing tablets based on Windows 8 next year, following the company's failed Slate PC last year running Windows 7.

[Update: Whitman has announced HP will eventually return to building webOS-powered tablets by 2013, after introducing Windows 8 tablets next year.]
post #2 of 41
To quote Gruber, "I hope I’m wrong, but I think this is just the difference between putting your dog down and letting it free on a distant mountain road."

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post #3 of 41
Sweet! More tinkering to be done and more ports and builds to spread to work on.
post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

HP has finally outlined its plans for webOS today, stating that 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," the company announced in a press release moments ago. "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."



This is great news! I'm sure that anybody that values innovation will be pleased!
post #5 of 41
Well I have to say that I run a program that utilizes a Palm data base. The os that HP has decided to keep is based on the Palm OS. I actually enjoy the data base that I use on my iPad via iSilo. I am glad that HP is gonna keep it.
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #6 of 41
If you can't sell it, you give it for free ! Perfect management decision, uh ?
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by umrk_lab View Post

If you can't sell it, you give it for free ! Perfect management decision, uh ?

Then sue for patent infringements later on.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 41
This is weak sauce. Throwing another codebase out into the arena with no support. I haven't heard anything particularly exciting about WebOS, so why would any tinkerer be drawn to it instead of Android? Or Linux? Or even Amiga OS?

This is just making a bonfire as an excuse to get rid of the trash.

Brett James
http://thedeadfallproject.com
post #9 of 41
I think it's the only decision that makes sense for H-P. So let it be written, so let it be done.

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post #10 of 41
For corporations you have to treat open source like a loan of money to a family member: not expecting to get anything back but happy if someone does contribute. It also helps if your open source efforts are integrated with other goals.

Like Apple with WebKit. The real value in WebKit was the establishing of it as a standard for mobile browsing. All mobile web browsers on non-legacy mobile OSs, except for maybe MS, are the same.

That's where Androids marketshare benefits Apple directly.

I don't see how WebOS can be a similar enabler as a supplemental strategy. The value was in having a vertical solution, but HP screwed that up!
post #11 of 41
The press release doesn't mention any employee layoffs.
What is to become of the WebOS team?
post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

The press release doesn't mention any employee layoffs.
What is to become of the WebOS team?

Gone!

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post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Gone!

That's what I thought too.
Meg: "have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and here is your pink slip"
post #14 of 41
I doubt those patents are going to be "[let] free on a distant mountain road." WebOS is admirable on its own but the patent trove that came with it is deep.
post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

That's what I thought too.
Meg: "have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and here is your pink slip"

Well, to be fair, the division is effectively dead and it would make no sense to keep on non-productive employees. It seems callous to the employee, but it is business reality.

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post #16 of 41
I think HP should give it away to the phone manufacturers for free. That way, the phone manu's can decide between Android or WebOS with a free license. Beat Google at its game.
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

I think HP should give it away to the phone manufacturers for free. That way, the phone manu's can decide between Android or WebOS with a free license. Beat Google at its game.

Excellent suggestion.
post #18 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

To quote Gruber, "I hope Im wrong, but I think this is just the difference between putting your dog down and letting it free on a distant mountain road."

I don't think it's that bad. Look at how many people have done things with Android. And WebOS has some significant advantages over Android.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett the James View Post

This is weak sauce. Throwing another codebase out into the arena with no support. I haven't heard anything particularly exciting about WebOS, so why would any tinkerer be drawn to it instead of Android? Or Linux? Or even Amiga OS?

I like WebOS. It's certainly better than any of the Android products I've used. With a couple of years of serious work, it could actually give iOS a run for its money in terms of usability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

I think HP should give it away to the phone manufacturers for free. That way, the phone manu's can decide between Android or WebOS with a free license. Beat Google at its game.

That's essentially what they're doing. Anyone who wants it can use it.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

The press release doesn't mention any employee layoffs.
What is to become of the WebOS team?

Most of them have already left to new job offers.

The HP layoff package isn't worth waiting for.
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

I think HP should give it away to the phone manufacturers for free. That way, the phone manu's can decide between Android or WebOS with a free license. Beat Google at its game.

Great idea and isn't that kind of what they've done?
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Long on AAPL so biased
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post #21 of 41
I would be willing to make a bet - that Meg will end up making the same decision that Leo made with their computer business - although she'll do a better job of marketing her decision as being positive.

This "decision" on the future of WebOS is a not a decision at all - at least in how it's being portrayed. Unless there is some underlying "plan" for tossing the software out as open source that will benefit HP that I'm missing...

Are they hoping that it gets fully developed for "free" then and only then will they start using it on new hardware? I assume Meg knew they were not competitive today and didn't have a plan that was executable to get them to the point of being competitive to Android or iOS. The same decision that Leo made a few months ago.
post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I don't think it's that bad. Look at how many people have done things with Android. And WebOS has some significant advantages over Android.

WP7 is superior to WebOS and Android, and has a better ecosystem than WebOS. I just don't see a commercial spot for it with Android being the "open" option, iOS dominating in the most relevant areas, and WP7 being great but still struggling to get a foothold. I think it may too late for WebO'yeller.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #23 of 41
Pah lease! Is that the best she could do?
Open source. That is the death blow. She apparently thought this through while sitting in Carly Fiorina's former corner office. The same office the HP heads of the different tech departments sent the nina to. The one that used the 6 blades of death on Carly. She didn't feel or see a thing until she went home, strangely tired. Then bam! Sh** started falling off.
Meg, well she's a little heftier than Carly so the ninja may have to use the 10 blades of death to get through that pork.
Her a** is gone!
post #24 of 41
Based on past experience with the enormously successful Windows tablets market (since XP I think), HP is obviously making the right choice not to go for the already developed and payed for in house OS with which they could be trying to grab marketshare while market was young, but to wait and pay Microsoft for an OS on each piece of hardware and put alot of money into hardware development of those Windows tablets.

I mean just look at those years of selling Windows slates, how successful they've been and now HP is on the path where they can compete with their Chinese OEM's (like ASUS etc.) just like their PC franchise, whomever is cheapest wins - slam dunk. Absolutely no vision whatsoever.

How far HP has fallen.
post #25 of 41
I am surprised Google didn't buy webOS for the patents and some of the UI knowledge.

Open sourcing it might work or it might not. I'm leaning to the latter though. Sure, it's free, but HP won't put the muscle behind it like Google does with Android.
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I like WebOS. It's certainly better than any of the Android products I've used. With a couple of years of serious work, it could actually give iOS a run for its money in terms of usability.

Sure, but if it's really open sourced with the usual open source baggage why would anyone do that? Why put Apple like polish on it then have it co-opted by others?

Quote:
That's essentially what they're doing. Anyone who wants it can use it.

it's an empty gesture to me. Some to distract the shareholders with to keep them from wondering how HP could piss away so much money and promising technology with absolutely nothing to show for it. HP should have focused on building up their phones and THEN releasing a polished tablet. But this whole thing stinks of the new CEO canning the previous CEOs project.

Larry Ellison, like or hate him, was spot on. The HP board was and is incompetent and the firing of Mark Hurd will go down as their watershed moment

I was hoping Whitman would re-enstate full support, blaming on the previous idiot. Then again he sure as heck didn't act without the boards implicit understanding. And since she was on the board...

Sigh. So stupid. Bye bye WebOS. Too bad HP bought you instead of HTC, Samsung, Nokia or hell even the likes of Asus or Acer. Then again the last two probably would have made the same mistakes with tablets.
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

HP has finally outlined its plans for webOS today, stating that it will "contribute the webOS software to the open source community," apparently because it couldn't find a suitable buyer for the platform. ...

Axed it, made sure it can't be used against them.

J.
post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Well, to be fair, the division is effectively dead and it would make no sense to keep on non-productive employees. It seems callous to the employee, but it is business reality.

I have always admired that management technique : we f'd up, we stay, you go home. Don't let the door hit you on the bum on the way out.

What class do they teach that in at MBA school? Ethics? Accounting?

Oh, to have the morals of the upper 1% in this county. I would be free free free!
post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetz View Post

I am surprised Google didn't buy webOS for the patents and some of the UI knowledge.

Arrogance. They thought they could bully the patent system like they did with copyright, and that there unrefined yet free offering would be good enough. What I think they overlooked is with search, gmail and there other offerings they have no competitor like Apple. Their competitors in their other markets are at best a little better than them or at worse allot worse than them.

Not so with phones or tablets. iOS is compelling enough that people are willing to pay a premium. Except that with tablets the iPad isn't a premium. And with the discounted older iPhones, the initial price thing is dissapearing too. And the amount of non-geeks that care about "open", USB ports and other nonsense is laughable.

Even having said that I still don't know if they wouldn't be too stubborn to not be aggressive in acquiring WebOS now if the opportunity presented itself.

Quote:
Open sourcing it might work or it might not. I'm leaning to the latter though. Sure, it's free, but HP won't put the muscle behind it like Google does with Android.

"it's dead, Jim"

If open source was the equivelant of magic fairy dust, they would have been liberally applying way before now!

Nope, this is a way to dump it while appearing to not be flushing shareholder value down the toilet
post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

WP7 is superior to WebOS and Android, and has a better ecosystem than WebOS.

Honest question here, how so? I've heard positive things about the underlying OS for WP7, but I've heard lots of positive about WebOS too. I don't doubt WP7 being a better OS than Android, fragmentation and the horrible plan for ICS uptake alone shows how poorly planned Android is, but I'd love to see a serious comparison of WP7 and WebOS.
post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnjnjn View Post

Axed it, made sure it can't be used against them.

zing!

Great insight! I think you nailed it, unfortunately.
post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

I think HP should give it away to the phone manufacturers for free. That way, the phone manu's can decide between Android or WebOS with a free license. Beat Google at its game.

Ummm. Isn't that what they are doing by open sourcing WebOS? In any event, I fail to see what HP has to gain from providing a free OS to other OEMs. How are they going to make money? As for taking down Google, thankfully corporate executives aren't as irrational as fanboys on the internet.
post #33 of 41
Good, now maybe people who stop trying to put Android on the TouchPads and focus on hacking an OS that doesn't suck.
post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedouin View Post

Good, now maybe people who stop trying to put Android on the TouchPads and focus on hacking an OS that doesn't suck.

Do you think that WebOS could be put on inexpensive Android tablets, like the Nook Tablet? That would be one sweet little machine!


More generally, anybody here know if WebOS is a good candidate for customization by a community? Might we see deep innovation by special-interest hackers?
post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

Do you think that WebOS could be put on inexpensive Android tablets, like the Nook Tablet? That would be one sweet little machine!


More generally, anybody here know if WebOS is a good candidate for customization by a community? Might we see deep innovation by special-interest hackers?

I'm almost positive that with a little work, that devices such as the Nook Tablet, can receive a functioning WebOS port, unless HP decided that a minimum requirement was a 1.2Ghz Snapdragon S3(which I seriously doubt is the case.)

FOSS People are always willing to play with whatever they can. No matter how small the project, there is usually a few people willing to take dive. Depending on the License that HP chooses, customization can be very easy and fast, or a bit tricky and take a bit of time.

But I have no doubt that WebOS will be ported and used in Dual-boot solutions.
post #36 of 41
Does this mean hardware makers who are unhappy with Android now have another option? Or are they open-sourcing it but retaining the exclusive right to sell it somehow?

This could split the competition against Apple in to 3 platforms: Android, Kindle (based on Android but kind of it's own thing), and WebOS.
post #37 of 41
I still wish somebody would mount a serious challenge to Apple in the vertically integrated market, but at least now the bottom-feeding freetard cloners will have access to a good mobile OS option that isn't locked into Google's spyware ecosystem.
post #38 of 41
Maybe I'm stupid but... isn't that the company Steve Jobs admired so much, he modeled his own companies after it?

Maybe someone needs to bet the company on some audacious decision?

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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post #39 of 41
Amen to that. If I was any younger and had less than my current 17 simultaneous projects (uh, I need to do some soulsearching here... like wth am I doing reading news on a Saturday night)... I'd probably be excited

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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post #40 of 41
It's like a reverse Cargo Cult.

Cast your belongings adrift and hope that people on some faraway island will find a way to make them useful.
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