Only a short time ago HP dumped webOS into the convenient arms of the open source community. Now, as Beta 1 rolls out, it seems to want to revive its interest - but why?
In the mobile world there is iOS, Android, and maybe Windows Phone 8 if it ever manages to capture the market share that Microsoft and Nokia need it to. So why would anyone in their right mind want to work on another mobile OS? This must have been the thought that caused HP to dump its mobile OS by making it open source.
Now the first beta of open webOS is available for you to try. It comes in two versions. One runs under Ubuntu and is ideal for testing your apps or just generally finding out about webOS. The other can be customized to run on a range of hardware. The beta release is intended primarily for developers. It includes 54 webOS components totaling more than 450,000 lines of code.
HP still has a hand in the open source development even though it sacked half of the original team. The strange news is that it now seems to be trying to hire up to 20 developers to work on the project? Why?
HP gave up on webOS when the HP TouchPad failed to excite much interest. It eventually sold the hardware off cheap, but most users of the TouchPad are more interested in getting Android running on it than a new version of webOS. Put simply there aren't very many hardware options that make webOS look an attractive option.
However, if you look at the current state of the mobile OS market, the two leaders iOS and Android are doing battle over whether or not Android copied iOS, or whether both are obvious developments of existing technology. As Apple looks as if it has the upper hand and Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 isn't an obvious winner - perhaps there is room for another mobile OS. Even Samsung, a strong Android supporter, has produced some WP8 devices following its defeat by Apple.
If hardware manufacturers lose faith in Android's future and don't think that WP8 is any better a gamble, it might be that webOS has more of a future than we all thought.