HP has revealed a detailed timeframe for open sourcing webOS, promising a new lease of life for the acclaimed mobile operating system. The tech giant aims to make the platform’s source code available under an open source license by September, according to a statement released on Wednesday.
Over the first six months of 2012, HP said that it will make individual elements of the webOS source code available, until the full code base is in the hands of the open source community by September.
First up is the source code for Enyo, webOS’s developer tool. The webOS code will be available under version 2 of the Apache license, according to HP.
The tech giant acquired webOS as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010. Rumors, however, swirled around the technology since HP announced plans to ditch its webOS hardware last summer. Potential scenarios included selling off or licensing the operating system to other vendors.
HP, however, opted for the open source route, saying that it would help drive future innovation.
“The best option that we have today is to open source the technology,” explained David Gee, vice president of marketing for webOS at HP, during an interview on Wednesday. “Innovation is going to happen everywhere and anywhere.”
HP, he told TheStreet, is putting the Linux standard kernel on the webOS platform, predicting that this will help drive the webOS ecosystem. “Anything that the Linux standard kernel runs on, you will be able to build devices where the Linux standard kernel is,” explained Gee. The company’s hope, he added, is to drive a wave of innovation encompassing services, apps and devices.
Gee, however, was unwilling to draw comparisons with Google’s fast-growing Android operating system. “We don’t wake up every day saying ‘we want to be Android’,” he explained. “Our goal is to create choice in the marketplace with the Apache 2.0 license that’s highly flexible and drive innovation for application developers and device manufacturers alike.”
But, will HP somehow be able to monetize this?
“We’re not going to talk about the business model yet,” he said. “At some point in the future, we will come back and have a more thoughtful discussion about what the business model around this looks like.”