HP ran its webOS SDK on iPad 2, hopes to license it as mobile web app tool

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
After HP's webOS hardware unit was scuttled by upper management, the webOS software team has hopes of bringing their work to the mainstream, leveraging Apple's open web platform to do so.



While early reports suggested that HP had internally got webOS running on Apple's iPad 2 hardware only to find that it purportedly ran "twice as fast" there, the reality is that webOS developers had actually brought their Enyo software development kit to the iPad 2, as AppleInsider has confirmed with a source within the webOS team.



Enyo is HP's JavaScript development framework for building web apps, core to webOS as a platform. Rather than resulting from an extreme difference in hardware, the aspect of Apple's tablet that made it run Enyo webOS apps so much faster is Apple's superior web browser JavaScript performance compared to the less sophisticated, simply named "Web" browser of webOS.



Evolution of the webOS strategy



While the original webOS team at Palm delivered an SDK called Mojo that worked to use Apple's WebKit as a way to rapidly create a functional platform for smartphones that could rival the iPhone experience, by the time HP acquired Palm's webOS that strategy had shifted to become a way deliver web-based apps that could deploy to both phones and tablets, and potentially other devices (a key feature of the newer Enyo SDK).



HP saw webOS primarily as a way to replace its embarrassing Slate PC fiasco that had begun when it joined Microsoft on stage just weeks before Apple's launch of iPad to demonstrate a new renaming of the Windows powered Tablet PC platform. Next to the iPad, the HP Slate looked so bad it came as no surprise that the company didn't even bother to manufacture more than a few thousand units.



By the summer of 2010, HP realized that just like Palm the year prior, it desperately needed to demonstrate a new mobile development platform if it wanted any hope of competing against Apple. Under the helm of chief executive Mark Hurd, it subsequently paid $1.2 billion for Palm in order to hit the ground running, building upon the work Palm already completed.



HP abruptly pulls out of hardware



Shortly afterward, Hurd was replaced as HP's chief executive by Léo Apotheker, the former chief of SAP, an enterprise software company then embroiled in a high profile intellectual property lawsuit brought by Oracle.



In an announcement outlining HP's future strategy, Apotheker stated that in his first 9 months on the job he had determined that HP had no profitable role to play in developing mobile hardware and had decided to kill the webOS hardware team. This was news to the entire team working on webOS products, as even its top management learned about the shift via HP's press release.



Apotheker also announced that HP would be evaluating its options in getting rid of its PC hardware business to focus on enterprise software, a path similarly followed by IBM. Also noted was the fact that HP was in a legal battle of its own with Oracle, suggesting that Apotheker wanted to convert HP into another SAP to directly battle Oracle in the software business, given that Oracle had brought itself into conflict with HP by buying Sun and pushing its customers to move from HP servers to Sun hardware.



At the same time, Apotheker also indicated that HP would maintain webOS and similarly evaluate various avenues for using the platform internally or externally through licensing deals with third parties. Some observers have suggested that remaining players in the smartphone industry might want to license webOS as a hedge against Android and its various lawsuits, particularly given that HP also owns the mature patent portfolio of Palm, giving the platform some protection from external patent claims.



HP's webOS options



According to source with knowledge of the situation, HP is already scheduled to begin talks with one potential licensee today. At the same time, finding another mobile hardware maker to buy or license webOS for use as its new operating system isn't HP's only recourse for recovering value from the work already invested in webOS.



The fact that webOS is built around WebKit means that its flexible Enyo SDK can be used by web developers to build cross platform apps that can run on any mobile device employing WebKit, which includes Apple's iOS, Google's Android and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook. The only notable mobile platform that doesn't use WebKit is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.



The design goal of Enyo is to create mobile apps using web standards, but with the flexibility to adjust to multiple screen sizes. Palm hoped this would create a platform that would support apps on both smartphones and tablets, and HP expanded that concept to also embrace PCs and other devices, suggesting at one point that it would roll some portion of webOS out across its desktop and notebook computers. The company has also hinted at using webOS in its printers, and suggested other targets in its presentation of the Enyo SDK.



Bringing webOS apps to PC users wouldn't be difficult to do using Apple's Safari or Google's Chrome browser (both of which use WebKit), essentially giving webOS's Enyo platform the ability to deliver sophisticated web apps that properly scale to run anywhere. A variety of JavaScript frameworks already exist to help developers create sophisticated web apps, including several Apple uses internally or offers publicly as a way to create native-looking and acting web apps for the iPhone and iPad, but Enyo is designed to scale between devices, not just to target a specific device (like the iPhone) with the look and feel of its native apps.







webOS could rival Chrome OS, Windows 8



If HP could gain traction for the webOS Enyo framework among developers who want to target mobile devices using web apps (including those who want to evade Apple's App Store rules and revenue sharing requirements by sticking to web apps), it could also mount credible competition to Google's Chrome OS and Microsoft's Windows 8 as a way for hardware makers to deliver web-based computers capable of running sophisticated web apps in addition to just browsing web pages.



Unlike Chrome OS or Windows 8, webOS has already completed the work necessary to scale its same apps to run on tablets and smartphones. Most critically, web apps created using webOS' Enyo SDK also run on Apple's iOS devices too, resulting a vast installed base of valuable users to target in addition to Chrome OS-like simple laptops, standard PC desktop browser users, and other WebKit mobile platforms.



Google's Chrome OS apps don't even work on the company's parallel, mobile Android platform, while Windows 8 is only aimed at tablets and PCs, competing against the Silverlight-based Windows Phone 7 in smaller mobile devices.



HP doesn't have to compete with Apple's Cocoa framework in Mac OS X or Cocoa Touch on iOS devices because Apple desktop and mobile products also support the open web as an unrestricted platform, leaving the iPhone, iPad and Mac open to running web apps developed with Enyo. Developers will only need to find a market for their apps outside of Apple's App Store, which is restricted to native Cocoa apps.



The biggest issue for HP is that it has already made the Enyo SDK available for free to developers, apparently in the hopes that they'd deliver apps that would add value to the webOS hardware it had been selling.



With that mobile hardware now canceled, HP will need to find a way to sell its tools or license the technology to a hardware maker with similar needs. Currently, webOS appears to lack a business model to support the software based strategy the company has already leaped to embrace.





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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member
    Oh my dear goodness, what a disaster.
  • Reply 2 of 53
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,612member
    While it would be nice to see WebOS installed on other vendors' products, I'm reading this with the feeling of being some guy driving at night, drunk, on a twisty 2-lane road with the headlights off hoping he gets home in one piece.
  • Reply 3 of 53
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,259member
    I truly laughed the day I saw Rubinstein claim superior development of their WebKit based solution to Cocoa.



    The man was bald face lying on stage to a new level and people so desperate to not see Apple be the next leader of computing were swallowing it like cheap booze.



    Sorry, but I've got SproutCore, Capuccino/280, jQuery Mobile [bazillion other frameworks and enhancements] for this Web based App Market [the market no one gives 2 craps about when Native Apps make the iPad form factor the next step in the computing evolution].
  • Reply 4 of 53
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Daniel Eran Dilger View Post


    ...Windows 8 is only aimed at tablets and PCs, competing against the Silverlight-based Windows Phone 7 in smaller mobile devices.



    The truth is Daniel, you simply don't know what the hell Microsoft is doing with Windows 8.



    They made it pretty clear that HTML/Javascript will be the runtime used for Windows 8 and Office 15.



    However they haven't confirmed how they will go about doing this (simply directing everyone to wait for BUILD)



    Sinofsky's Windows 8 group contains a dedicated XAML team (an odd thing if Windows 8 is competing with Silverlight on WP7).



    At the moment the best best is just wait for BUILD before making any sweeping predictions.
  • Reply 5 of 53
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    With that mobile hardware now canceled, HP will need to find a way to sell its tools or license the technology to a hardware maker with similar needs. Currently, webOS appears to lack a business model to support the software based strategy the company has already leaped to embrace.



    Maybe they don't intend to sell it to hardware vendors, but sell the JS framework to enterprises who want to develop their internal apps in a platform-independent way. That would fit in with what Apotheker seems to envision for the company, as a software services vendor, and explain why he kept it. Enterprises love these cross-platform frameworks, but imho for the consumer space the native platform tends to work out better.
  • Reply 6 of 53
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    In an announcement outlining HP's future strategy, Apotheker stated that in his first 9 months on the job he had determined that HP had no profitable role to play in developing mobile hardware and had decided to kill the webOS hardware team.



    Have they booked Apotheker? It is a sad state of affairs and a statement on how powerful the corporations have become when Apotheker can announce boldly that HP had decided to kill the webOS hardware team. I hope those guys can make the jump to Microsoft (with free phones) before HP is done with them.
  • Reply 7 of 53
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,588member
    In all likelihood the author has spent more time writing this article than Web OS will be used by third parties. Web OS is a dead OS. Palm never finished it, HP couldn't leverage it and couldn't interest developers to make apps for it. It is highly unlikely to gain interest from HTC or Samsung, I mean, come on, how could HP sell it to them....



    HP Rep "Hey, guys, we have this fantastic OS that you can license for your hardware.."



    HTC/Samsung "why did you stop using it?"



    HP Rep "erm..."



    HTC/Samsung "How did it review? how well did it go down with the press"



    HP Rep "erm, well, about that"



    HTC/Samsung "what about 3rd party developer support"



    HP Rep "well, arm, we paid some devs to make stuff for it"



    HTC/Samsung [hangs up]
  • Reply 8 of 53
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    In all likelihood the author has spent more time writing this article than Web OS will be used by third parties. Web OS is a dead OS. Palm never finished it, HP couldn't leverage it and couldn't interest developers to make apps for it. It is highly unlikely to gain interest from HTC or Samsung, I mean, come on, how could HP sell it to them....



    HP Rep "Hey, guys, we have this fantastic OS that you can license for your hardware.."



    HTC/Samsung "why did you stop using it?"



    HP Rep "erm..."



    HTC/Samsung "How did it review? how well did it go down with the press"



    HP Rep "erm, well, about that"



    HTC/Samsung "what about 3rd party developer support"



    HP Rep "well, arm, we paid some devs to make stuff for it"



    HTC/Samsung [hangs up]



    Yup.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    I truly laughed the day I saw Rubinstein claim superior development of their WebKit based solution to Cocoa.



    The man was bald face lying on stage to a new level and people so desperate to not see Apple be the next leader of computing were swallowing it like cheap booze.



    Sorry, but I've got SproutCore, Capuccino/280, jQuery Mobile [bazillion other frameworks and enhancements] for this Web based App Market [the market no one gives 2 craps about when Native Apps make the iPad form factor the next step in the computing evolution].



    And yup. Web apps are just not at the level of native apps.



    Even if web apps gain steam, with so many web app libraries being developed with quite some intensity, how would WebOS/Enyo/whatever from HP's abandonment compete?
  • Reply 9 of 53
    The problem with web apps is simple. Some management and the press keep going HTML5 is amazing lets base products on it as it will also make it possible for thousands of HTML developers around the world to instantly build apps for are platform rather than having to learn a new language.



    None of them ever stop to question what the average HTML guy can actually do? 99.9% of websites are really basic and when there is something completed like this forum run off a bit of code that someone origionaly made and a web developer has then bought. Most of the time the guys producing websites can't actually write the complex bit themselves and are just re-using other people code.



    Your average propper application developer though can generally pick up another language in under a week. Making what language your using a bit irrelevant.
  • Reply 10 of 53
    4miler4miler Posts: 24member
    Either Microsoft or Google Android should just buy up the WebOS team and IP, more likely Google. It'd be exciting if Google bought up the WebOS hardware side as well and integrated it with its Motorola hardware capability. That would really give Google soms guns to tackle Apple. As Apple fans, we all know that Apple needs competition, otherwise Apple is even worse than Bill Gates when he was at his worst.
  • Reply 11 of 53
    iSuppose this whole webOS was born out of the "all things Web" idea.



    Problem is that idea a now dated, and while webOS is well made, the driver is not there! Web based apps ran in to a bunch of compatibility issues only now developers like myself relied on a layer we had no control over.



    I can see that the webOS team may not want to see their brainchild die, but it can't be any more apparent that it has no future whatsoever. Perhaps bits and pieces of it but as it is...fudgetaboutit!
  • Reply 12 of 53
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,743member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    Evolution of the webOS strategy



    There isn't any.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    HP's webOS options



    To die with dignity. Whatever it's got left.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    According to source with knowledge of the situation, HP is already scheduled to begin talks with one potential licensee today. At the same time, finding another mobile hardware maker to buy or license webOS for use as its new operating system isn't HP's only recourse for recovering value from the work already invested in webOS.



    Like a gambling addict chasing their money. It doesn't end well.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The fact that webOS is built around WebKit means that its flexible Enyo SDK can be used by web developers to build cross platform apps that can run on any mobile device employing WebKit, which includes Apple's iOS, Google's Android and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook. The only notable mobile platform that doesn't use WebKit is Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.



    The design goal of Enyo is to create mobile apps using web standards, but with the flexibility to adjust to multiple screen sizes. Palm hoped this would create a platform that would support apps on both smartphones and tablets, and HP expanded that concept to also embrace PCs and other devices, suggesting at one point that it would roll some portion of webOS out across its desktop and notebook computers. The company has also hinted at using webOS in its printers, and suggested other targets in its presentation of the Enyo SDK.



    Bringing webOS apps to PC users wouldn't be difficult to do using Apple's Safari or Google's Chrome browser (both of which use WebKit), essentially giving webOS's Enyo platform the ability to deliver sophisticated web apps that properly scale to run anywhere. A variety of JavaScript frameworks already exist to help developers create sophisticated web apps, including several Apple uses internally or offers publicly as a way to create native-looking and acting web apps for the iPhone and iPad, but Enyo is designed to scale between devices, not just to target a specific device (like the iPhone) with the look and feel of its native apps.







    webOS could rival Chrome OS, Windows 8



    Just . . . stop.



    The market has seen WebOS. Twice. THEY DIDN"T CARE.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    If HP could gain traction for the webOS Enyo framework among developers



    WebOS is probably the first thing developers will run from. Fast. Nobody who isn't Apple will be trusted with WebOS ever again.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    who want to target mobile devices using web apps (including those who want to evade Apple's App Store rules and revenue sharing requirements by sticking to web apps), it could also mount credible competition to Google's Chrome OS and Microsoft's Windows 8 as a way for hardware makers to deliver web-based computers capable of running sophisticated web apps in addition to just browsing web pages.



    Unlike Chrome OS or Windows 8, webOS has already completed the work necessary to scale its same apps to run on tablets and smartphones. Most critically, web apps created using webOS' Enyo SDK also run on Apple's iOS devices too, resulting a vast installed base of valuable users to target in addition to Chrome OS-like simple laptops, standard PC desktop browser users, and other WebKit mobile platforms.



    Google's Chrome OS apps don't even work on the company's parallel, mobile Android platform, while Windows 8 is only aimed at tablets and PCs, competing against the Silverlight-based Windows Phone 7 in smaller mobile devices.



    HP doesn't have to compete with Apple's Cocoa framework in Mac OS X or Cocoa Touch on iOS devices because Apple desktop and mobile products also support the open web as an unrestricted platform, leaving the iPhone, iPad and Mac open to running web apps developed with Enyo. Developers will only need to find a market for their apps outside of Apple's App Store, which is restricted to native Cocoa apps.



    The biggest issue for HP is that it has already made the Enyo SDK available for free to developers, apparently in the hopes that they'd deliver apps that would add value to the webOS hardware it had been selling.



    With that mobile hardware now canceled, HP will need to find a way to sell its tools or license the technology to a hardware maker with similar needs. Currently, webOS appears to lack a business model to support the software based strategy the company has already leaped to embrace.



    This would actually be interesting if it was 3 years ago.
  • Reply 13 of 53
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,917member
    I don't get the negative response to the idea of HP providing cross-platform development tools. I think it's a great idea. Businesses really do want the best cross-platform tools they can get, and they want those tools from a company with credibility to keep updating/refining those tools without favoring one platform over another. Companies that have their own platforms to promote aren't credible nor are tiny companies or open source projects that rely primarily on the amorphous "community".



    If HP were to really commit to providing truly cross platform development tools of this type i think they could find a lot of success.
  • Reply 14 of 53
    d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    The problem with web apps is simple. Some management and the press keep going HTML5 is amazing lets base products on it as it will also make it possible for thousands of HTML developers around the world to instantly build apps for are platform rather than having to learn a new language.



    None of them ever stop to question what the average HTML guy can actually do? 99.9% of websites are really basic and when there is something completed like this forum run off a bit of code that someone origionaly made and a web developer has then bought. Most of the time the guys producing websites can't actually write the complex bit themselves and are just re-using other people code.



    Your average propper application developer though can generally pick up another language in under a week. Making what language your using a bit irrelevant.



    These are fair points, and I'm afraid you are right. Even with the very best HTML5 development tools, you will end up with a development environment much like Flash. The abundance of Flash applications that are extremely badly coded shows what this will result in.



    At least with native toolkits and development environments, the barrier for entry is set high enough to filter out most of the me-too 'developers'. Many people are able to click-drag some shitty app together with some glue code to make it somewhat run, but as soon as you are forced to think about good architecture, efficiency, code organization etc, a lot of wannabe's will simply give up before their shitty 'application' hits actual users.
  • Reply 15 of 53
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,127member
    I wonder if Apple has had a little chat to HP about buying WebOS, at a far smaller price than HP paid for palm of course.



    There is some nice functionality there that would benefit their platform tremendously.
  • Reply 16 of 53
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... embarrassing Slate PC fiasco ... HP Slate looked so bad ... no surprise that the company didn't even bother ... it desperately needed ...



    This article was clearly labeled a Feature rather than hard news, but aside from the above, it seemed to stick to the facts.



    DED seems to know a lot, and he can pull disparate things together in interesting ways. The article was well-written, and as it was a feature rather than hard news, some leeway for opinion is perfectly OK.



    Calling the story a feature seems to be the way to present his stuff fairly. Good move, AI. But even though it is labeled as a Feature, the article was one of the least biased ad most informative I've seen from DED.



    He could be a great fire and brimstone Editorial writer. I'd love to see him go for it with scathing opinions and rampant speculation, clearly labeled as an opinion piece. His opinion pieces are his most entertaining, and so long as they are not presented as hard news, AI could have the best of both worlds.



    Calling this one a Feature is a Good Thing, but having him write purely Opinion or Editorial pieces could be even better.



    Just my 2 cents.
  • Reply 17 of 53
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    I don't get the negative response to the idea of HP providing cross-platform development tools. I think it's a great idea. Businesses really do want the best cross-platform tools they can get, and they want those tools from a company with credibility to keep updating/refining those tools without favoring one platform over another. Companies that have their own platforms to promote aren't credible nor are tiny companies or open source projects that rely primarily on the amorphous "community".



    If HP were to really commit to providing truly cross platform development tools of this type i think they could find a lot of success.



    I've never understood why people think cross-platform is a good idea. Making your business logic layer cross platform is good but doing it with presentation is very very bad. Just look at Windows/Mac applications that exist of both, do they look the same? No. Should they look the same? No.



    Could you imagine a WP7 app on an iPhone with its sideways navigation, large letters and general square feel. It would look stupid. Equally could you imagine an iPhone app on WP7 with it's back buttons and tab bars. It to would also look stupid.



    It's much better to accept the fact that people chose there device because it was different to another device and for your app to be popular it should also be designed to take advantages of those differences. Not try an come up with one app that looks and works the same everywhere.
  • Reply 18 of 53
    irontedironted Posts: 129member
    i could see it as a replacement for Windows Mobile Auto.
  • Reply 19 of 53
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,917member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    I've never understood why people think cross-platform is a good idea. Making your business logic layer cross platform is good but doing it with presentation is very very bad. Just look at Windows/Mac applications that exist of both, do they look the same? No. Should they look the same? No.



    This is a common source of confusion for people who are unfamiliar with larger businesses. I'm not talking about software that is developed as a product and sold to consumers or businesses. I'm talking about software that is developed as a tool for either internal use by a business or for limited use outside of the business (with clients or suppliers). These projects are usually resource constrained, plus it just isn't necessary to provide a really polished native UI on every device that might use the program, even if the resources existed to do that. For these types of projects, write once and run (almost) everywhere is very appealing.



    And this is exactly the kind of customer that HP seems to be interested in targeting now.
  • Reply 20 of 53
    If HP is looking to build on its enterprise integration then WebOS makes sense to retain. It gives them another tool/service to compete against Dell with. And the announcement made abundantly clear that HP is, in key product areas, cutting away the less profitable product lines and withdrawing some aspects of engagement in the consumer market. Printers for the near-term make sense as I'm sure their profit margins on those is fairly good, the rest is building out their products and services to the enterprise.



    Look for the WebOS team to be challenged to produce an enterprise version that can be leveraged into the larger enterprises for embedded enterprise apps. It makes sense there as many larger corps(like my current venue) are looking for lightweight deliverability as they build out reliance on things like VDI.
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