Last month, Hewlett-Packard gave up trying to sell the WebOS mobile platform it bought from Palm, and released it into the wild as an open source project.That usually means a company has given up.
But today, the company offered some new details on exactly what will go public when. And it’s setting a very aggressive schedule, so there’s obviously some sense of urgency here.
It starts today with Enyo, a development framework that lets users create an app once then port it easily to multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and all major desktop Web browsers.
HP originally built Enyo as a way to get WebOS developers in through the back door — instead of trying to convince them to spend a lot of time on a platform with very low adoption (WebOS), they could get developers working with Enyo, and creating WebOS apps almost as a byproduct.
So why should developers use Enyo instead of one of the many other cross platform development tools out there? Enyo head Matt McNulty gave a couple reasons:
- It was built specifically for mobile devices, so it’s very fast and doesn’t take up much space.
- It was built with enterprise apps in mind. “It’s very scalable, recreating apps out of parts of other ones is really easy, and managing large apps is easy,” said McNulty.
The other parts of WebOS will go public over the next few months, and the entire system will be open sourced by September.
That’s all well and good, but it’s still not clear how all this will benefit HP.
WebOS CTO Sam Greenblatt wouldn’t talk details about the WebOS business model, saying more information is coming soon.
But he did say, “The key role we’re playing is consolidating instead of fragmenting. That’s absolutely key.”
Here’s one guess: if HP can convince developers to build mobile apps for all devices using WebOS as the underlying platform, perhaps HP can then sell tools to enterprise that help them manage all these apps.
It’s a longshot, but at least HP is trying to make some hay out of its failure to build a thriving mobile business.