This week, Hewlett-Packard announced the open source roadmap for webOS along with the next edition of its application framework, Enyo 2.0. As we wrote yesterday, the time for webOS to shine may lie ahead. What it comes down to is how well the open source community responds to webOS and whether or not the original equipment manufacturers will ever decide to build webOS devices.
The favorable response of the community and OEMs is not guaranteed. Many think webOS is as dead an operating system as Aramaic is a language. That may include former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein who is leaving HP after his commitment to the company elapsed. Is there still potential for webOS and Enyo or have we seen the last of the once-promising mobile operating system? That is the topic of this week’s ReadWriteMobile poll.
There may or may not be a future for webOS. The timeline stretches to September this year and is licensed under the Apache 2.0 open source license. HP has said that developers are free to suggest new aspects of the project and bounce them off the experts in the in the Enyo Forum. The company believes it is more likely that proposals concerning the outer branches of webOS will be undertaken than anything touching the core of the source code and kernel.
The biggest gain that open sourcing webOS may garner could have less to do with webOS itself than with Enyo. The application framework is fundamentally Web-based. In mobile terms that means it will rely heavily on HTML5 and CSS and work through WebKit and Direct Canvas. While there are other HTML5 frameworks developers can use to create mobile Web apps, such as those provided by appMobi and Sencha Touch, one of the biggest desires of mobile HTML5 developers has been a consistent, easy-to-use framework. Enyo might be the option that developers have been looking for.
For the OEMs, there may be an advantage in contributing to the webOS open source project. These are turbulent days for many OEMs. HTC was one of the companies that helped make Android popular, but it has seen its growth stall with the dominance of Samsung in the ecosystem. Motorola, which reported a loss for the 2011, is stuck to Android through its potential acquisition by Google. Samsung has shown a willingness to adopt any mobile platform that it thinks it can create future growth. Secondary OEMs such as LG and Huawei could hedge bets against a reliance on Android with webOS.
Will anybody adopt it? Or are the dissembled parts of webOS, like the standard Linux kernel or the application ecosystem that could be created through Enyo, more valuable? Take the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.