LG Acquires webOS from HP, Will Use It in Smart TVs

Palm’s webOS has made another return from the graveyard. After being left at the mercy of the community for over a year by Hewlett-Packard, which had acquired Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion, webOS has found a new home. LG has acquired webOS from HP for an undisclosed sum.

The Korean electronics giant isn’t planning on using the mobile OS in smartphones. Instead, it will be adapting it for use in its popular smart TV range. LG was reported to be eyeing webOS for quite a while, after deciding against using Google TV over fears of Google imposed restrictions on the design and interface. LG’s purchase also includes all patents and employees of the webOS Global Business Unit.


Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics Inc, remarked, “It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices”. It will be interesting to see how LG goes about porting an operating system designed for touch to the remote control operated big screen.

LG might not be the first name that pops into anyone’s mind when talking about smartphones, but they have a strong presence in the television market. While purchasing webOS outright is surprising, it’s not surprising that LG is looking to replace NetCast, its current smart TV platform. NetCast has served LG well, but it is showing signs of age, and with big names like Google and Apple preparing to double down on the smart TV market, LG needs to up its game. HP will also be happy to be able to get something in exchange of webOS. Palm’s webOS was once heralded as the brightest competitor to the iPhone’s operating system, but corporate inefficiency and idiocy never allowed it to realize its full potential. Even surviving as a smart TV platform is a sad fate for a genuinely innovative and intuitive operating system, but in LG’s hands, webOS will probably reach millions of more households than it ever did under its previous two owners.

HP’s Roadmap for webOS Open Source Initiative

While it’s not news that HP have begun their open sourcing efforts for webOS, the fact that they have published their official roadmap for the project, however, is. 

Back in 2011, HP decided to open source webOS. They flogged their TouchPads and made a bunch of money. They couldn’t find any buyers to sell the platform they built from the ground up. They decided their best choice was to throw open the doors and give it away for free. It’s taken just under 2 months for them to release anything, and today they have.

The HP webOS Developer Blog has posted the official announcement of their efforts in open sourcing their Javascript Application Framework – Enyo. Enyo is a completely cross-platform, open source, highly customizable and extensible application framework. Open sourcing Enyo was the first step in the roadmap, with only 5 days left before a soft deadline.

According to their press release, HP hopes to have completed open sourcing of webOS by the end of August 2012, when they release “Open WebOS 1.0″. Scratch the first entry, it’s done.

  • January: Enyo 2.0 and Enyo source code Apache License, Version 2.0 
  • February: Intended project governance model, QT WebKit extensions, JavaScript core, UI Enyo widgets
  • March: Linux standard kernel, Graphics extensions EGL, LevelDB, USB extensions
  • April: Ares 2.0, Enyo 2.1, Node services
  • July: System manager (“Luna”), System manager bus, Core applications, Enyo 2.2
  • August: Build release model, Open webOS Beta, Open webOS 1.0

Hopefully by August, HP will have completely weeded out any and all binary blobs from webOS, open sourced all the bits under the hood, and packaged it with the proper license (Enyo is licensed under Apache 2.0) that truly gives developers, enthusiasts, hobbyists, and hackers the ability to push webOS forward.

Although HP has indicated they have a good interest in using webOS in the near future, putting it all out there with a hands-off approach would likely better the chances of a bright future for webOS. Nokia did it with Maemo and there is a very strong and smart community who are still using and developing for devices that were EOL’d a long time ago. The webOS community is full of resilient, bright, and talented people who will take webOS under their wing.

All webOS needs is some new hardware. If the above image is what you have in mind and you work at HP, please walk yourself off a cliff before you ruin all the hard work Palm did.