Paying $1.2 billion for a piece of software that you then give away for free 18 months later does not seem to make much financial sense, but Hewlett Packard has been left with little option than to make webOS open source.
Meg Whitman, the new CEO of the company, tried to put a brave face on the decision on Friday, when she said: “By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.”
But essentially the company has been left with no choice but to open it up to software developers following Whitman’s predecessor, Leo Apotheker’s decision to ditch the mobile devices which webOS was running on – namely the Veer and Pre smartphones and the TouchPad tablet.
A statement from the company said it would make the underlying code behind webOS available under an open source licence. It said third-party developers, partners and HP’s own engineers could then “deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace.”
While the goal of this project may be to “accelerate the open development of the webOS platform” making it open source may not necessarily mean it will be any more successful.
Without the support of developers producing apps for the platform, it will struggle to become a viable option against giants such as Android and iOS, and will even struggle to challenge smaller players like Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry OS.
Do you think that making webOS open source will mean the platform has a future? Let us know what you think in the comments.