HP's webOS goes Open Source; Future competition for WP7?

Yesterday, HP's CEO Meg Whitman made the public announcement about the future of WP7's competitor webOS, and that announcement set the world into a downward spiral of emotional charges, cheerleading, Nostradamus-like predictions and opinionated blog posts (though the only ones you need to read are those at our sister-site PreCentral.net *ahem* WebOSNation.com). Still, we haven't tackled the issue that stands in front of us today as a result of this decision - how will an open sourced webOS affect Microsoft's rising efforts with WP7?

As Derek Kessler has stated,

"Open sourcing is the middle road between killing webOS outright and selling it. In essence they’re giving it to the community that has cared about it and ensured that it continued to exist to this point. But how long webOS will continue to exist and be relevant after this point? That all depends on the almighty hardware."

As of right now, HP's decision to open source webOS has very little affect on WP7, if any at all. The affect that it could have is completely dependent upon the "almighty hardware"; hardware that has yet to be designed and built with OEM's that have yet to decide whether they want to use the platform. Also considering that it will still take time before webOS is actually open sourced (legal issues, you know), WP7 fans should have no worries about what could happen within the next year, or longer.

That said, webOS would be joining Google as one of two major open source operating systems (the term "major" meaning released worldwide to several million users). In some parallel Universe, and possibly this one, webOS will someday make it into all popular manufacturer's hands and dozens of smartphone handset models (which would turn into millions of users worldwide). But there is also the possibility that HP will just let webOS squander in the shadows before finally kicking the bucket without a single care from the world.

Bottom line is, we just don't know what will happen, and saying otherwise is only speculation. Of course, an open sourced webOS could bring some positive things to the WP ecosystem as well; we all know that friendly competition and technological innovation is good for everyone, no matter which side of the court they're playing on.

Read more about Open Source webOS at WebOSNation.com

WC Staff
  • As a former webOS smartphone user for 2 years, I can definitely say that it was an awesome mobile OS with major advantages over every other OS on the market - past and present.  It also had major weaknesses which eventually killed it.  I am personally very sad to see yet another truly great awesome OS die (anyone remember BeOS?).  It was my OS of choice, hands down but HP's Pre³ just did not wow-factor me enough to hang in there, so here I am.  I miss real multi-tasking SO MUCH!!!  I'd like to see  Microsoft integrate this into future versions of the Windows Phone OS (sooner than later!)
  • "It also had major weaknesses which eventually killed it." What are some of these, in your opinion? I'm not trying to bait you, this is a sincere question from someone with no first hand experience with the webOS. BTW... i viewed a demo of webOS some time ago, and after HP threw in the towel I too kinda hoped that Microsoft would purchase webOS licenses/patents and utilize some of the better pieces in Windows Phone. I guess it's too late for that now.
  • I also had a Pre for almost 2 years before it got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore. There are a lot of things to like about the OS, but too many weaknesses to ignore. Here's a quick list of some of the more well known:
    Slow and laggy, terrible battery life, buggy (often felt like it was still in beta), slow updates, still outstanding issues after updates, poor email client, very small app selection, dearth of quality apps (even though there were some great indies and some decent big name apps, just not enough to make anyone care), no document editing, lack of APIs (voice commands, access to microphone), and I'm sure there are some I'm missing.
    Fact is, the OS was always full of incredible promise. Palm and HP kept throwing it on crappy hardware in the same form factor that had failed multiple times previously, without making software changes to keep the platform competitive. I loved webOS and even got a few people to buy Pres and TouchPads. It was innovative when it was first announced, but then it took 6 months to get to market and the world forgot about it. It was playing catch up ever since and finally ran out of gas. I'm hoping that WP picks up some of the good bits and integrates them into future updates, since ther are definitely some things I miss.
  • I've used WebOS on my HP Touchpad and I have to say its nice but I am not impressed with it. And as much as I dislike Android, I've since installed android on it and between the two, WebOS is no competition for it, let alone Windows Phone or Windows 8 Time will tell what developers will come up with should it make the open source circuit. But good luck just the same.
  • Doesn't compare to what it is like on a phone.
  • I have a TouchPad, too, and I'm not very impressed with it either. Despite me overclocking the CPU to 1.5GHz, it's still slow and clunky. The browser is especially bad - no tabs, slow to load, and it doesn't even render in the background (only loads the page you're looking at).
    The only thing I do like is the 'card' system for multi-tasking - this would work well on WP7!
    I've never tried it on a phone, though.
  • My history with Palm dated back to a second hand Pilot 5000 in 1998.  I was thrilled when the Pre was realeased, but it soon became evident that hardware wasn't the only issue.  Palm's engineers could never seem to fix the fact that webOS is a slow, laggy, battery hog.  It just seems to be a side effect of the system itself.  By the way, it aint true multitasking, its just fast switching like everyone else.  It just exacerbates the poor battery life by leaving everything running in the background.
    The best features of webOS have been incorporated into other OS's while HP dithered, and honestly I really don't miss it much.  I do wish I'd realized that before I wasted $600 on the crappy Touchpad!
  • Open sourcing the project is a nice way for HP to say "We dont want it anymore". Consider it dead... or wait six months and then consider it dead.
  • They are at least saying, they won't be spending any additional dollars on development.