HP to Keep webOS, but Will Make It Open Source


Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) plans to keep the webOS platform it acquired from Palm but will also make the operating system open source, allowing developers and others to modify and expand on the platform. The decision brings a sense of finality to the fate of webOS, which has been uncertain ever since HP effectively killed its webOS device business in August.

In a statement, HP said it plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. The company also will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. The company said this will allow developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware makers to enhance webOS and bring new versions to market.

HP will work with the open source community and will look to foster "good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation." Additionally, HP will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the open source community in "the near future."

According to an AllThingsD report, which cited unnamed sources, the decision to move webOS to an open source project will likely lead to a smaller webOS team inside HP, and any layoffs would come on top of the 500 webOS layoffs announced already.

In November, HP wrote down a total of $1.67 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter related to its decision to wind down its webOS device business, the company said, giving a financial postscript to its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010.

HP said it booked a total charge to its operating income of $788 million related to the closure of the webOS device business, a move announced Aug. 18. On the company's earnings conference call for the fiscal fourth quarter, HP CFO Catherine Lesjak said the charge consisted of a net revenue reduction of $142 million related to a sales incentive program, $548 million in cost of sales due to supplier-related obligations and inventory reserves and $98 million in operating expenses and restructuring charges. In addition to that charge, HP also was hit with an impairment expense of $885 million against a carrying value of goodwill and purchased intangible assets related to the acquisition of Palm.

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