webOS is dead, long live webOS | webOS Nation

webOS is dead, long live webOS 70

by Derek Kessler Fri, 09 Dec 2011 2:35 pm EST

Just about a year and a half ago Dieter published an editorial titled “Palm is dead, long live Palm,” about the future of Palm and webOS as part of HP. In the past seventeen months we’ve seen about as much turmoil as one company can create, with a rotating carousel of CEOs, the announcement of three devices, launch of two, cancellation of them all, and today’s open sourcing of webOS.

Today everything changes yet again for the webOS community. As of this moment the horizon for webOS is both expansive and empty. Open sourcing webOS allows HP to try new things and leverage off the support of what we would call the most dedicated group of developers a platform has ever seen. But it also comes with a dark cloud: in the end nobody stepped forward to buy webOS from HP, and HP couldn’t justify investing in new hardware development for webOS themselves. We don’t know if those potential webOS purchasers merely decided that it wasn’t in their best interests to try where both Palm and HP could not succeed, or if they weren’t able to meet HP’s demands.

So we find ourselves at the middle road between a rocketship into space with new devices or a coffin made of TouchPads. It’s a road, and it’s heading into the desert, and frankly we don’t know where it goes or how far we have to go to get there or if we have enough gas to make it.

While the future is now anything but certain, we can be assured that webOS isn’t going to disappear. By contributing webOS and Enyo to the open source community, HP has ensured that for those that want to use webOS, they’ll always have an option. The public availability of the source code will allow any developer, manufacturer, or random user to use webOS how they see fit on whatever they see fit. We spoke with HP about their discussions with members of the open source community at large and they said they saw a lot of extremely positive feedback about webOS going open source.

But without hardware, webOS has the definite potential to not make it through this desert. Without hardware the user base will be small, and without a truly compelling reason, the average user is not going to go through the effort of loading a different operating system on a tablet or phone they’ve purchased that runs Android, iOS, or whatever other platform.

This is an interesting predicament for webOS, and an interesting solution from HP. 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.


**** you Meg!

Meg and HP, smiling but a little nervous: "Hey kids, I shot your dog! But, I skinned him and tanned his hide, so here, have this warm blanket that used to be your favorite pet!"

Us kids, crying in pain an grief: Waaahhhhh!

Lol wow...

Not so fast. TechCrunch quotes Meg saying that HP will be building WebOS tablets in 2013.


Whether or not it happens remains to be seen.

She may not be CEO in 2013, and I doubt WebOS will be as cared after then as it is now.

Heck, she may not be CEO in 2012

I'm thinking about your comment in three ways;

1: 2013 is a long time from now, and HP is bipolar. Do the math.

2: Between now and 2013, they'll design and develop a killer tablet that'll launch at a big trade show. Spy reports will guide us through 2012 while our aging touchpads hold off for a replacement.

3: The open source community will bring webOS to other platforms and the developer community will be vibrant. People will buy droid tablets only to install webOS.

My initial response to the open sourcing news wasn't fear but excitement. As a longtime linux user, I know what it's like to see nothing but continuous improvement on OSS tech. Look at Ubuntu, KDE, etc...

I'm open-sourcing my thoughts about this. Whatever you guys decide is what I'll go with. I'll let you guys do all of the thinking. Let me know when you've arrived at an opinion. In the meantime, I'll go do something else.

"I'm open-sourcing my thoughts about this."

ThoughtAssistant.prototype.thoughtGenerator = function () {
return 0;


Error: ThoughtAssistant not defined at line null.

How long will it take to get one of those Android-compatibility layers plugged in to Webos? Does this not free up that opportunity, so that we can have Android Apps running on Webos, and then buy Android Apps from Amazon and Webos apps thru HP, all on the same device?

That's a level of insanity that I choose not to fathom.

"I love WebOS, so I'm going to run it on Android hardware running an Android emulator so I can use current apps...but man, I hate that Android!!!!"

That's what I'm talking bout. Let the Android games begin! WebOS was ahead of it's time. Like that guy who found out how to make a car run on hydro, he got killed didn't he? Same with WebOS

they kill Rudolf Diesel too. His car ran on peanut oil.

Maybe! Sorli...

Only good can come from this. Maybe some enterprising person can get it up and running on Android hardware now, and stamp out the piles of bugs. This is cool.
I switched to Android ages ago and haven't regretted it for a moment, but I'd love to mess around with WebOS still.

Maybe now google can steal "cards" for android, because that's the only thing I really miss from my Pre on my Photon.

I mean, I loved my Pre but 14-18 hours of battery life with all radios running, listining to Audible audiobooks or music all day long and every app I ever wanted.

I lived through the death of the Amiga computer (tbe best damm machine ever allowed to die), and I won't do it again.

I'll leave that long slow heart-break to the youngsters.

Whether Android can incorporate webOS code depends on what open-source license is used for webOS code and whether it is compatible with Android's open source license.

Functionally Android did steal cards in Ice Cream Sandwich

Good decision by HP. There was no other really good option. But no new hardware is worrying but i will definitely stay here and watch the community progress on webOS.

Maybe this is the beginning of a brave new world for mobile devices. Think about x86 hardware generally. The platform can run different operating systems. Why shouldn't mobile devices have the same level of freedom? Only time will tell whether this comes to pass.

Because PC architecture is horribly unoptimized and inefficient. That's why iOS is killing mobile PC devices. You're welcome to have the freedom of a PC - you will just have a big clunky device with lots of empty space inside and tons of ports that you don't ever use.

Maybe this will make it more attractive to a hardware partner like HTC if they don't have to license it from HP? I'm sure there's some Chinese company that would be willing to make a phone or tablet for it (they turn out a new Android tablet every day). webOS is still in a bad place, but at least it's going somewhere.

Ever forward, webOS friends and family.

Palmcast soon?

And this is why I moved on 2 weeks ago..... Maybe rod could move on to ios5 and work some of his magic. May help it be more like webos. God I miss unintrusive notifications, just type, synergy, and true multitasking. Rod help us out over here at the forbidden fruit!!!....

We need an article/statement from Rod ASAP. Please make this happen Derek.

will we still get webos printers?
i kid, i kid.

No doubt HP will produce webOS-based printers. Why? Because they don't have to pay license fees to Microsoft, et. al. for using Android.

This was the only possible and possibly the best thing you could do, I said that a looong time ago. What more could you ask for?

The TouchPad came at a few months ago- why do people keep wanting it to be dead? Do they like how it sounds?

It is up to the community now...
HP wants to wait and see, it has been their game all along.
At least WebOs has somewhat of a future.

Thanks Meg it's been a great roller coster ride the past few months! My excitement for the touchpad & pre3 was high. Now comes the news we all knew was inevitable. No new hardware, no new buyers, no new partners, microsoft taking developers..WebOS to be open sourced...in the coming weeks/months. I for one will no longer buy any more HP products & hope other do the same. We the people have spoken!!!

Open source can mean different things. The key is what open source license is applied: Apache, GPL(2/3), etc.

I would expect it to be more like Apache, BSD, or the Eclipse type of license than GPL(2/3).

Good point.

I'm not sure the "no hardware" argument makes sense. Linux existed for about ten years before there was hardware designed to run it because it could run on most any computer and still does.

Open sourced, WebOS can now be ported to run on most any hardware, Android, (rooted) iPhone, Mac or PC.

It's not no hardware, it's everyone's hardware!

You're hoping that webOS becomes the Linux of mobile platforms?

**** Yeah!

LOL. What a wonderful fate. Software that never ran great on hardware made for it is zombified and made to run on ANY hardware in an even worse fashion with less support than ever.

WebOS Uber Alles!

I've been running CM7 for the last two months because I needs apps that work NOW. Get me Android apps running in a CARD in WebOS and I'm back in a flash -- to stay.

Apps like what? Netflix? That's the only one of the big apps people still cry about (although there are wAys to get it)

Movies? Check. (HP Movies, Crackle, Amazon Prime, Vudu)

Doc Editing? Check. (Quick Office, Picsel Office)

Remote Access? Check. (Splashtop, Remote Desktop)

Ebooks? Check. (Kindle, pReader)

Children's apps? Check. (Games, coloring, narrated books, etc)

Games? Check. (EA, Glu Mobile, Gameloft, Rovio, Hexage, etc.)

What there's no "banking" apps? Every banking site works in the TPads full flash browser. Want the "app" experience? Click "Add to Launcher" on any website. Do you use 'apps' to surf websites on Windows 7/OSX? Why would you on a tablet with full flash\html5?

For the same reason they do on Android/iOS...don't ask me what it is, I've never understood why people want to pay $.99 for an app that does less than what the mobile site does.

I understand there's only one image to touch and you're in, but is it that much harder than touching the browser image and then a bookmark link?

I guess bookmarks in tiny browsers aren't very easy to pick, but once you get over 5 pages of app icons I would imagine that browser route would start to be preferred.

Pocket Informant - the best calendar since Datebk on PalmOS (also written by the same developer).
Anonymous - browsing 4Chan pictures.
VLC Media Player - the Swiss Army knife of media players.
ShopSavvy - for comparison shopping by reading bar codes.
A decent Google Voice client.
A decent note-taking app.
OliveTree BibleReader - I'm not as religious as I used to be but I still appreciate being able to carry several versions of the Bible on my phone and when I was on webOS, there was nothing as good as OliveTree for Bible study (except for the PalmOS version of OliveTree).
Voodoo CarrierIQ - for testing your phone to see if it has the CarrierIQ software, oh wait....

It's sad that a "brick and mortar" book seller can make a tablet and HP can't. They deserve to be the "#2 minus" pc maker.

Well, this answers some questions but raises some others:
1. Is HP going to remain committed with HP resources to webOS? Or will they let go all the internal developers expecting the open-source community to fill the gap? If it's the latter, webOS will die (the community cannot easily replace the efforts of 500 full time employees - especially for a project with an already struggling ecosystem). How long is any HP financial commitment good for?
2. How hard will HP work to get OEM partners to release webOS devices? Again, if they expect partners to pick it up on their own, then webOS will die.

This is anything but a panacea - lots of projects get open-sourced but few get support and become viable ongoing projects.

At a minimum, unless HP is going to do it, webOS needs a company like Canonical to step in to provide ongoing support and management of the software (releases and hardware ports to other existing devices). HP also needs a hardware vendor shipping devices (HP is saying they will not ship webOS devices - so they aren't it). Finally, Android app compatibility is becoming a requirement. Even if webOS can be installed on non-HP/Palm devices, end-users won't bother to install it unless there are more apps available.

Open sourcing makes it possible for webOS to be installed on non-HP/Palm devices, could clear up some licensing issues that concerned OEMs and prevented them from distributing webOS, but it does not solve the issues where there is no HW (and no strong OEM backing it) and the lack of an extensive applications and developer ecosystem.

In short, if we don't see an OEM work with HP to announce or ship a new competitive device within 3-6 months, webOS goes into a slow fade and is irrelevant and gone within 2-5 years.

It sound like they are going "All In" on open source. This is a "very value proposition" for them. Remember, it's a marathon, not a Sprint. I'm sure HP is going going to be "number one plus" of squatter platforms in no time.

"In short, if we don't see an OEM work with HP to announce or ship a new competitive device within 3-6 months, webOS goes into a slow fade and is irrelevant and gone within 2-5 years."

As opposed to now when it's on the rise and relevant?

No device can be competitive if it has the current forms of WebOS on it. The tablet has accelerometer, audio, and browser bugs galore. The phones have no onscreen keyboard, a smattering of barely updated apps, and no ecosystem.

You can ship a phone or tablet running that in one day, one week, one month, or one year - same result: failure.

Honestly, I don't think this changes anything.

Unfortunately, as much as I love webOS, it's still just as dead as it's been since August.

Without hardware, there's no point. The two things that webOS has been lacking for a long time are hardware and ecosystem, and neither of those has changed today.

Besides that, as much as this is a firm decision to open-source it, there's still so many questions that need to be figured out before that will actually happen. webOS was falling behind fast enough when there wasn't this indecision behind it.

webOS-Internals is great, I just don't see how they or any other open-source developer will be able to keep up with the pace that Apple, Google/Android, and even WP7 are moving at.

Thanks for the lucidity, sir.

There's dead and there's nearly dead. HP could have killed off webOS for good but instead they put it on life support. If HP handles it correctly, open sourcing webOS will allow them to decouple the hardware and software parts of webOS. This would allow developers to create webOS distributions similar to Linux distros which could be installed on any phone with compatible hardware. For example, I like my EVO 3D but not a day goes by that I don't miss my old Pre Minus. If there were something like CyanogenMod for webOS which I could install on my phone to run webOS, there wouldn't be much need for HP webOS phones.

Yes, I know. No one's going to want to do that; you're talking about consigning webOS to a hobbyist's only ghetto; yada, yada, yada. But that ship has already sailed. By killing the Touchpad and by not releasing the Pre 3, HP had already consigned webOS to a hobbyists only ghetto. Worse yet, they had consigned webOS to a hobbyists only ghetto which was especially hard to move into. Now with the open sourcing of webOS, there's at least glimmer of hope that some more hobbyists can move into that ghetto and work on improving it.

glad I got my 2 pre 3's and 64gb touchpad since these devices may be the last to not host obtrusive ads ala ad-droid.

The adfree app removes the ads in Android.

"It’s a road, and it’s heading into the desert..."

Don't forget...we've been through the desert on a course with no aim, it feels good to open source, no more shame.

Also, interesting things can be encountered in the desert...Area 51?

"La, laaaa, laaaa, la, la, la, laaaa....la, la, laaaa, laaaa, laaaa..." :-)

Tonight, I am going to charge up my palm M500, tungsten C, Zodiac, Treo 680 one more time and raise a glass for the fond memories. It has been a fun journey.

I can't wait to see Canon, Epson, and Kodak printers running WebOS well before HP can even wipe their butt.

I Still don't see how a Printer would Need webOS????

It doesn't. I just want to see some printer manufacturer put it on their printer before HP does.

Three questions from me. @dgdonovan's What Licence? and @Scotland's What level of support? and Which OEMs? - I think that these three questions will more or less determine the platform's future life. If they weren't in a position to announce hardware partners bringing new devices then I feel they needed to bring a software solution (bootloader?) to show that the OS could work on other devices. WebOS bootloaded on to a Galaxy S II would have turned some serious heads (apps or no). As someone who was dabbling with developing I still think its worthwhile. There is a market out there of users dying for new apps and uses for their touchpads and pre's. Also, developing in Mojo/enjo sets you up for web dev so the skills do not go to waste (and provides a good building block for mobile app dev).

How can we get HP to "Open Source" the designs for the TP-Go, the Pre3, and the Slab Phone they designed, but did not take to market?

I mean these (along with the Pre-, Pre Plus, Pre2 and TP) were not Manufactured by HP, buy by a Third company in China.

Right now I am using a Pre3 with a build date (according to Webos Quick Instal) of 9/11/12, that was made for ATT, who canceled their orders.

If we could get - I don't know, say Cincinnati Bell, or T-Moble to offer these phones, who knows? Maybe even Sprint or Big Red?

The great thing about this is that now phone manufacturers have a compelling offer to compete against a biased Android. Which manufacturer can guarantee that Google will not favor Motorola with Android?

Well now they have a alternative. A license free OS without a competitive hardware attached to the creator and maintainer.

I think this is the beginning of a very interesting journey for the webOS community.

I'm going to miss webOS phones.

Like linux, Ill reserve my thoughts on open sourcing webOS when it does actually result in products.

So, they're leaving it up to the community to make it what we want... I guess it's time to man up.

We've been yelling and screaming at HP to give us something great. They tried. Now they are conceding and telling us we are free to show them what we meant.

This chance doesn't come too often. Let's not fail ourselves.

What adult has time for this nonsense? If something interesting is happening in a couple of years, let me know. In the meantime I'll be living with my iPhone 4S which just works and has epic amounts of real, professional apps.

Today, people. Now.

Mathias Duarte is probably on cloud nine:


You know this has upped the game for Android. I'm getting chills!

I hope webos does not become the next meego.

I like this picture very much. Is it possible to get it with a higher resolution?

I feel like HP only bought WebOS so they could slowly kill it and get the patents from it. If that were the case why didn't they do that in the first place? What they did was leave many people screwed in the process and leaving others with no confidence in HP whatsoever. What HP should have done is to have had WebOS come out with all guns blazing and the hardware to back it up, and then if that didn't work kill it. Not just let it die slowly.

HP made a pretty good move in doing this...

It takes TIME to produce quality products, and we have been so anxious over every little upgrade, etc. that we forget how far we have come...

HP Needs to STFU over any NEW products, and SURPRISE us with announcements of products which astound and amaze... and, most importantly are readily available for purchase within 3 weeks.

There's this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI056nhaduk

If HP were clever they would do well to take the advice from the video:

Want a competitive product?

Offer the world this either as a mobile phone or tablet:

Fastest processor / battery usage ratio
User Replaceable Battery
Offer 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions
Offer them in different colours
Offer 3G and 4G Speeds
Super High Res screen
Gorilla Glass
Ability to use removable media cards
iOS and Android emulation

Bring back the TREO name.
Do not let the product age by announcing it prematurely

And, here's the trick:


Simple Sales: KISS.

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Developers are either going to jump ship, scale back on webOS with no hardware coming down the immediate pipeline, keep making their apps like normal, or switch gears and get interested in the internals scene instead of app development. What ratios of people fall into each part is of course unknown.

The wolves in the tech scene all see "jump ship", and the Apple/Google evangelists will ridicule any interest in webOS here on out. But anyone on this site who has been a part of this community is already used to that.

Digging the metaphor: sure, it's all desert as far as the eye can see. Some balk at this thought; a step away from an eventual and slow death being pecked to death by crows. But it's not that bad of a place, though. I thrive in the desert (Mojave, CA). I like it. The horizon is just as clear as the back of my hand out here. Nothing can surprise me or sneak up behind me, you can spot it from a mile off or more. And there's a lot of ingenuity to be found in places like this.

I can't wait to see what comes of open source webOS.