In yet another case of a Hewlett-Packard CEO reversing the mistakes of her predecessor, Meg Whitman has told Fox Business that “we have to ultimately offer a smartphone” and “we are working on this.”
Former CEO Leo Apotheker discontinued operations for webOS in August 2011, which Whitman promptly turned into an open source platform upon assuming control of the company. In her most recent interview, Whitman admitted that HP “took a detour” with smartphones and that “we’ve got to get it right this time.” But it has to be good, not necessarily fast to market.
HP could be planning to use its webOS platform, or it might switch to one of the bigger operating systems like Windows Phone or Android. The company isn’t ready to say. But HP is definitely getting back into the smartphone business, regardless of which OS the devices end up running.
[Fox Business via Engadget]
2011 was a difficult year for webOS, due largely in part to HP’s sudden discontinuation and just as sudden revival of the platform. HP, however, hopes to help webOS compete in the smartphone market by releasing it to the open source community. The company announced its 2012 roadmap on Wednesday, starting with the release of the Enyo 2.0 application framework and culminating in the release of Open webOS 1.0 in September.
HP is replacing the current webOS kernel with a standard Linux kernel, allowing the operating system to run on nearly every Android handset with just a few driver updates. This will greatly simplify the lives of OEMs, and the development community should be able to throw webOS on any number of existing devices. The transition to the Linux standard kernel will happen in March, but those interested in the Open webOS beta will have to wait until August.
The changes to Enyo are just as massive. Version 2.0 eschews its reliance on WebKit in favor of complete browser-independence. As a result, users will be able to run webOS apps in any modern browser. That means webOS apps on Android, Windows Phone, and iPhone, as well as on any computer running a recent version of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
Whether or not manufacturers will choose to adopt webOS is still unknown, but the platform certainly has potential. It could very well be a viable alternative for OEMs interested in an open source OS but hesitant to enter the patent infringement-laden world of Android.
[HP webOS Developer Blog via Pocketables]
As with HP’s Personal Systems Group before it, webOS appears to have narrowly avoided discontinuation. In a Friday press release, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman announced her decision to turn webOS into an open source platform, allowing HP’s engineers and its dedicated community of developers to help shape the future of the mobile OS. This decision is a direct reversal of that of her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, who discontinued operations for webOS before he was replaced by the HP board of directors in September.
In her statement, Whitman touted the cloud connectivity and scalability of webOS, which the open source community will be able to leverage to “advance a new generation of applications and devices.” As part of this announcement, HP plans to release the webOS codebase under an open source license. It will do the same with ENYO, the webOS application framework, in the “near future.”
Of course, HP doesn’t plan to wash its hands of the platform. The company has promised to be an “active participant and investor in the project.” HP also aims to help the open source community avoid fragmentation while “accelerating the open development of the webOS platform.”
This is good news for many webOS developers, who may have been looking into investing their time and energy into other platforms. But will it make much of a difference in the long run? The webOS software lives, but a resurgence of webOS hardware from HP is highly unlikely. If HP wants to turn webOS into a viable competitor to Android and Windows Phone, it will have to convince a lot of hardware manufacturers to join its cause.
Update: We’re now receiving reports that, shockingly, HP is indeed considering webOS hardware. Tablets, to be exact. Things are still in flux at this point, but Whitman doesn’t believe the company’s line of webOS smartphones will return.
[HP via Nothing But Tablets]
Hewlett-Packard is reportedly preparing to separate its webOS hardware and software divisions. Just over two weeks ago, the company announced that it would be “discontinuing operations for webOS” and looking into ways to detach itself from its PC division. Possible options include spinning it off into its own company, selling off the division, or shutting it down entirely.
The separation isn’t much of a surprise, but it shows that HP wants to keep webOS around on the software front. Splitting webOS and moving the software portion out of the Personal Systems Group (PSG) and into the Office of Strategy and Technology (OS&T) will allow HP to discard the webOS hardware alongside the PSG. HP plans to follow in IBM’s footsteps and reinvent itself as a software company. While it no longer wants to manufacture webOS devices, HP is very interested in licensing the platform to other companies.
“We have decided that we’ll be most effective in [leveraging the webOS software and growing its applications environment] by having the teams in webOS software engineering, worldwide developer relations, and webOS software product marketing join the Office of Strategy and Technology,” wrote Todd Bradley, the Vice President of the PSG. “This change is effective immediately.”
The full text of Bradley’s internal memo can be read after the break. Continue reading…
In a surprising move, Hewlett-Packard announced on Thursday that it plans to shut down operations for its webOS division. This news coincides with the company’s decision to “explore strategic alternatives” for its PC unit, be it selling or spinning off the business.
The world’s number one PC manufacturer brought in revenue of $32.1 billion last quarter, but it wasn’t enough. HP plans to wind down operations for webOS–specifically the Pre, TouchPad, and Veer product lines–by the end of the fourth quarter. Whether or not this refers to the end of HP’s fiscal year in September or the end of the calendar year was not specified. Depending on what happens, the Pre 3 might not be released in the US.
HP doesn’t intend to completely shut down webOS, which the company obtained as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm last year. “HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.” Stephen DeWitt, Vice President of the webOS Global Business Unit, repeatedly reassured employees that “we are not walking away from webOS.” HP most likely intends to license the mobile operating system to other hardware manufacturers like Samsung and HTC. Of course, webOS would have to undergo some modifications, as it was designed for a specific Qualcomm chipset.
The discontinuation of webOS marks the second smartphone operating system to pull out of the market this year–Nokia is phasing out Symbian in favor of Windows Phone–leaving the mobile market with just four contenders: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Phone. It will be interesting to see what happens.