It’s been a busy week, a week of big announcements. First we had Google and Motorola joining hands in holy matrimony and now it’s HP’s decision to dump WebOS after only 16 months after it’s purchase of Palm. From all reports though, they are only dumping the hardware and devices that webOS was being developed for and discontinuing all current devices. They are however, continuing on with the software, the question? Why? So anyway, this got me thinking, HP have just dumped it, surely they would part with it cheaply and try and recuperate that $1.2bn they spend on Palm, rather then spend more money on developing it and also supporting it, especially considering their move away from the consumer side of the market. This is where Google could come in. Tell me to shut up if you think I’m being silly but Android’s major issue is inconsistency and also lack of spit and polish from both a UI perspective and also from a general software point of view. Web OS is known as a beautiful OS, elegant and refined, with great ways of handling things such as notifications and also search, It’s Cards app switching idea is brilliant and also looks cool, the last piece of the puzzle, it was masterminded by now Director of Android User Experience at Google, Matias Duarte. If anyone knows the software and UI it’s him.

It would make sense to purchase the WebOS software from HP and not only roll it into Android but pull all the goodness out of it and pull all the badness out of Android and just throw it in the trash. It may seem drastic but it could also allow for lawsuits from Microsoft and Oracle to almost just go away, if enough code used in Android was swapped out for WebOS code. Now I’m not a programmer and don’t know whether or not that would be feasible or even doable, but it seems relevant. It seems natural, buy a hardware company and then buy WebOS and just roll it all in together. It could also stifle another an issue Google might have, and went I say might, I do mean might. Stephen DeWitt, Senior Vice President at HP and in charge of the WebOS division, has come out and said that WebOS is not dead, and they it’s still going to be supported.

The WebOS is not dead, we’re going to continue to evolve it, update and support it. We stand by it.

And there is the issue. If HP decide to open source or just plain old license (ask Microsoft how licensing Windows Phone 7 is going) WebOS and allow other manufacturers to use the mobile operating system, the likes of SE, LG, Samsung and LG could all jump onto the software and start selling handset with it. This is especially apparent seeing as even though Google PR suggested they are all happy with the Motorola acquisition, they are starting to show that may not be the case starting to show they are not. If those companies are looking for another viable source of income, an open source WebOS could just be the answer. Would it really work though? I mean Windows Phone 7 isn’t really setting the world on fire, I mean Samsung own internal OS, bada sold better then Windows Phone 7 in Qtr 2 of this year, now that’s saying something. Or does it say something for un customisable software? Android can be skinned and Windows Phone 7 can not, unless your Nokia of course, but it does beg the question, is the reason Android has taken off because it can be skinned? or just because it got in at the right time? There is a slight issue with HP licensing WebOS, if they can make decisions like this, to both dump hardware fresh off the manufacturing floor, makes you think they wouldn’t stop supporting the software entirely too?

We are in a very strange world right now, it’s really only a 2 horse race, with a load of companies trying to make it a 3 horse race. You have Microsoft with Windows Phone 7, Rim with it’s BlackBerry OS and then there is the now defunct WebOS trying all to get to that 3rd spot. In my opinion I think it’s too late, though I do think Nokia can pull Windows Phone 7 out of the depths and make it a viable competitor just due to their mind share and market reach. Getting back to the point though, if Google has an opportunity to grab WebOS do you think it should be done? Do you thinking beating a dead horse is worth it or does it have potential? I think that it has got the potential and I would love for Google to grab it. One question that will be answered soon is, if HP decide to open source it and not just throw it in the bin, has Google just shat in it’s own nest and will the other Android manufacturers go for a run with WebOS? Time is always on our side and when it pans out, we will be here.

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There is potential to buy it out and use the IP to strengthen Android in its defenses against the current onslaught of litigation it is facing. There is also potential some of the algorithms could be translated into the Android platform. Which I believe is developed on C (correct me if I’m wrong, please). They could also steal ideas from the UI of WebOS without fear of litigation, which would also be a bonus.


What exactly do you suggest taking out of WebOS and putting in Android?

I don’t know much about the internals of the former, but I can tell you that most developers would be livid if they had to relearn how to program for Android. Android runs on the Dalvik machine and its Java-like libraries. WebOS, if I understand correctly, uses Javascript.

If it is only the UI that is interesting, Google doesn’t need to buy anything from HP to grab a pinch of inspiration from the corpse of Palm. 🙂

Boris Jevic

Hi Anon, of what I remember, BOTH systems are based on linux, albeit have variations. So it should not be to hard to re-do the core. As for programming, WebOS of what I have read was much easier to program for.
Now if the tools remain the same and just some changes are made to the O.S. itself, I don’t see any reason they the tools would need to be changed.
Simple example, WinXP and Win7. You can use Visual studio on both, same tools, slightly (dependand on your point of view) different O.S.
Just a thought.

Mike Tran

Why buy the milk when Google already has the cow (Duarte) ? The only real benefit from buying WebOS is the Patents! They do have quite a bit from PalmOS days


Good point, Mike. Although I’d be interested in seeing whether Google is able to act so quickly after just purchasing Motorola.
If anything Google may try to just acquire the patents from hp.

Tim Marshall

it would be a great boost to get the patents for the functionality in webos , the cards system etc – open source nature of android and how far we are through version numbers etc at this point kinda makes it impossible to actually combine any of the code .. the ideas and implementations would be great .. maybe they could open source and make a few of the low level system bits and pieces part of android and milk a bit more performance from older phones.. its a bit silly that we need dual core above 1ghz to push… Read more »


Chances are high that many WebOS internals are licensed from other companies, making it hard to open source. Remember the hassles Sun had with Open Office?


You seem like a good guy. 
But you’ve just gotta fix all those little errors that take away from the article as a whole. Things like the big slabs of text/simple grammatical mistakes/poor sentence structure.

I’m not trying to rip into you mate!
Just some constructive criticism to make your future articles more enjoyable to read 🙂


Yes, taking the time to read an article aloud is a good way to catch most of those cut and paste/reworking gaffes.

Lucas Burnett

I do have to say your right, there are a some grammatical errors in the piece. I did read the post before posting it, however like you say, there are errors and I apologise for letting them slip. Thanks for the comments guys, consider it taken on board.

Shaun Anthony Dickenson

I do have to say that you’re right*

Just thought I would have my say.

Shaun Anthony Dickenson

I do have to say that you’re right*

Just thought I would have my say.

Mallardious Monk

I’d be surprised if it were even remotely feasible to rip bits from WebOS and bolt them on to Android.  But it’s not like I’ve seen the source for the two, this is just going on general principle.

Now, what they *might* get from buying WebOS is patents.  And the ability to re-implement some of the neater bits of WebOS as improvements to Android without running into (as much) legal trouble.

Though Microsoft copied the “cards” concept for Mango, so who knows how much the legal/licensing thing really matters?

Zane Kearney

Wow i was thinking the same thing today at work. It would be awesome to see all the really cool things from WebOS finally get the attention to detail that a company like google can give it. tbh the UI of webOS is the best out there even better than android and it would be the best thing google could do atm.