HP said it is to contribute its webOS platform to the open source community, following months of speculation as to the future of the platform.
The company said that it intends to be “active in the development and support of webOS,” and that by moving to open source “there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.”
In a blog post, the HP Developer Relations team said that the announcement has “committed HP to a course of continued improvement to webOS, which means we’re in it for the long haul.” This includes “good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation of the platform.”
The company also expressed its “deepest appreciation” for its app developers, stating that “you have helped to bring this announcement about through your passion and commitment, through periods of both promise and uncertainty.”
According to a recent developer survey by Appcelerator and IDC, interest in webOS for both smartphones and tablets has dropped in recent months, against a backdrop of uncertainty about the future of the platform.
HP said it will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source licence, with developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers able to deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace. It will also contribute its ENYO application framework for webOS to the community, along with a plan for “the remaining components of the user space.”
According to Bloomberg, Meg Whitman, president and CEO of HP, said the company may release new hardware running webOS in 2013 – it said in August that it would not offer any more devices using the platform. What is not clear is what form these devices will take: Whitman said that the company is “out of the smartphone business,” and while a tablet would be an obvious choice, HP has also previously iterated plans to use the platform to power smart printers.
It had previously been reported that the company was in talks with potential buyers of the platform, with names in the frame including Intel and Qualcomm.