Mobile OS

Possible ripple effects of HP's plan to open source WebOS

How will HP's decision to open source WebOS possibly impact Android, open source developers, and the monetization of apps? Post your thoughts in the discussion.

Since Hewlett-Packard announced its decision to open source WebOS, the tech community has been speculating about the implications of this news. CNET News.com blogger Roger Cheng believes WebOS is doomed to fail, while ZDNet blogger David Gerwitz thinks WebOS has legs because people fear Google.

ZDNet Editor in Chief Larry Dignan says this change could cause some disruption in the smartphone industry. These are three of the key areas Larry states are worth pondering:

  • The impact on Android. Android is the king of mobile as well as open source operating systems. However, carriers and smartphone makers want to diversify away from Android as well as Apple's iOS. WebOS could be a nice diversification tool that could splinter Android support. The other reality: The WebOS UI is better than Android's, but Google's platform has the apps.
  • Open source developers. WebOS will be a new toy and will initially garner interest. One interesting thought is that Android and WebOS code could ultimately merge into either a frankenOS or a threat to Apple's iOS.
  • Developers. If the WebOS platform gains traction developers could have one more avenue to monetize applications. Diversification could be a boon.

What do you think HP's WebOS plan might mean for the mobile development industry? Let us know.

Also read:
Note: CNET, ZDNet, and TechRepublic are CBS Interactive brands.

About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

12 comments
gerbilio
gerbilio

I hope WebOS survives. Compared to iOS and Android, it's the best of the three.

frazreid
frazreid

What should happen is that WebOS gets merged with Android with help from HP that could be a great OS for mobiles and Tabs. Nice name also - WebDroid hehe Fraser

mgrady
mgrady

HP should have done this two years ago. Have a commercial version with support and an open source version in parallel. They are absolutely wise to open source it at this point. Google needs some competition.

rustys
rustys

I for one would love a decent phone that had neither Apple or Google OS. Can't be bothered spending half my life hacking a phone to make it worh the way I want and sure as hell don't trust Google to guard any information of mine. Had a good look at one of those HP tablets with WebOS that a client purchased recently and if there were a few more apps available I would prefer that to my current tablet.

zaq.hack
zaq.hack

Another possibility is that some smaller player will invent devices we want that run webOS. Who wants to carry a hot spot, a cell phone, and a tablet around? I wanted to be able to take calls on the Xoom, but no such luck. If someone came out with a lightweight laptop/tablet (not a full desktop OS) and actually built a hot spot and a phone into it (hello, Bluetooth? A headset jack? I don't need to hold the tablet up to my face), then I think that would have pretty broad appeal, too. But big hardware companies aren't presently interested in converging those devices just yet ... it's like they've never used Skype.

zaq.hack
zaq.hack

I think Linux enjoys a sort of "middle ground." It is not mainstream, nor is it dying out. I say this as a Linux lover who has Mint as his primary desktop OS and runs Windows under VirtualBox. I don't think webOS can occupy that same ground. I think it's going to either really take off, launching to a solid #3 or maybe overtaking #2, but the "small device" category doesn't really have room for "middle ground." If the Samsungs and Motorolas of the world release a webOS phone, then I think you have something. If not, I think it will be a curious footnote within a few years. And I say this as a TouchPad owner and lover. :-)

TNT
TNT

I think WebOS will have a life, but as a device OS for printers, Internet TV's, programmable remotes, cable/satellite set top boxes, etc. The phone market is not looking for another contender, and as an open source project WebOS will not have advertising behind it. As such, its fate will be like Linux, a good, cheap option for devices other than the mainstream desktop/tablet/phone markets.

reggaethecat
reggaethecat

WebOS is a great OS on the TouchPad, but it seriously lacks apps which is incredibly frustrating. PLEASE someone make working Citrix and RDP apps!

rmerchberger
rmerchberger

"The phone market" may not be looking for another contender (not sure how you can speak for the entire phone market... but that's another show), but I was! I was ready to plunk down cold hard cash for a Pre3 to go with my 32G TouchPad... I love WebOS (to me, it's the most efficient phone/tablet OS in regards to multitasking and built-in apps (read: android) -- for example, the email client is "da bomb" -- without being too simplistic (read: Apple-OS - Sorry, I work on a lot of cisco gear, and IOS says "Catalyst 6509" over "iPad" to me...) the facebook client was great until Apple whined that it was better than what was available on the iPad and Zuckerdood stopped improving it... No, I'm not trying to be a "hater" - I've used all three and they all have their strengths and weaknesses - A lot of people prefer iPad's single-task orientation... nothing wrong with that except I personally don't like it. Android's lack of unified task management is painful compared to WebOS (If it's running, it's in a card. If you don't see a card, it's not running) - Granted, I'm not keen on WebOS's "If it's not a newish HP printer, you're not printing to it." Blech. Hopefully going Open Sauce will let me print to my PCL-speaking (and also PostScript-compatible) Ricoh in short order. P.S. Almost all of the people that I knew that had a WebOS phone that was forced to move on to a different platform (dead hardware, better wireless service, etc.) say that they much preferred WebOS and wished it was better supported from the wireless carriers and HPalm. Oh, and don't get me started on your ludicrous Linux statement... you are aware that Android (and WebOS) is Linux-based, right? And there is one market where Linux is mainstream - the server market.

miles4000
miles4000

there is a RDP app for webOS. ITS call Remote Desktop Client and it works great.

echo9
echo9

you got him good :D keep it up!