Palo Alto, Calif. - Hewlett-Packard will turn its WebOS operating systems for smartphones into an open-source OS along the lines of Google's Android OS, the company announced.
"WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable," said president/CEO Meg Whitman. "By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open-source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices."
HP will make WebOS's underlying code available under an open-source license so that developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers "can deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace," the company said.
HP will work with the open-source community to help define the "charter," or operating principles, of the open-source project to accelerate open development of the platform, HP said. "HP will be an active participant and investor in the project," which will include "transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation," the company added.
"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," HP contended.
HP bought WebOS along with WebOS inventor Palm last year for $1.2 billion, then discontinued sales of Palm's WebOS-based smartphones, which had garnered only a small share of the smartphone market. After dropping WebOS smartphones, HP said it would incorporate WebOS in other future products. Press reports, however, contend that HP wanted to sell off WebOS but couldn't find a buyer.
WebOS could get support from smartphones makers that sell Android phones but might be upset that Android developer Google is getting into the smartphone market itself with the planned purchase of Motorola.