Feb 15 AT 7:35 PM Edgar Cervantes 47 Comments

HP’s new CEO talks about open-sourcing Web OS, says Google might become close-sourced

whitman Image via: laihiu with Creative Commons

Hewlett Packard’s new CEO, Meg Whitman, made an appearance today in a conference directed at the company’s channel partners in Las Vegas. The company expressed many of its plans for the future, but there was a significant statement that caught our attention. Whitman spoke briefly about the idea of open-sourcing WebOS and managed to take a slight punch at Google.

For those who may have forgotten, HP quit the hardware manufacturing business last year. The company decided to redirect its focus to software in an effort to improve their situation. You probably remember seeing the HP Touchpad on sale for a mere $99 right after HP announced this. But let’s move on.

The open-source topic was very briefly covered. Whitman mentioned that it would take 2-5 years to get WebOS open-sourced, and that she believes another mobile OS is necessary for the industry. Her claim was that Apple is great close-sourced, and Google might be following the same steps (due to Motorola’s acquisition). Oh, and she also mentions that it is fragmented.

It’s hard to take such words seriously, reminiscent of the likes of RIM. It seems both CEOs really need to consider what Android is all about. HP and WebOS haven’t been very successful in the mobile industry, and open-sourcing WebOS might be the best move to make. And it should be done sooner.

There are many reasons why Android is such an attractive OS, but much of it revolves around its open nature. Manufacturers and developers can do wonders with the OS and modify it (for better or worse) to their liking. This is the main reason why Android has reached the top of the smartphone food chain.

Our little green robot is now everywhere. You can choose from a plethora of devices, UI overlays and features. A great part of Google’s success in the mobile industry is due to this very fact, and Google would take a big risk close-sourcing our favorite mobile operating system.

When the acquisition of Motorola was first announced, we were all worried. Many questions arose, mainly revolving about the future of Android and if Motorola would get any sort of preference or exclusivity. The Search Giant has made it very clear that Android will not be affected by this acquisition. This deal was meant to provide Google with a patent portfolio that would better protect them in legal disputes.

We are still a bit suspicious about such claims. Google might very well throw a curve ball at us. And Google has also mentioned that “they are not in just for the patents.” But it seems very unlikely that Google would risk its success to the extent of closing the whole OS.

Meg Whitman’s statement may very well have been meant to make HP’s partners feel more secure (which is something commonly done). We’ll just have to wait a few years and see how HP plays its game. By then, Android should be much, much bigger, so we suggest HP does things a bit quicker than expected.

Via: Business Insider

Source: Channel Buzz

Hello, I am Edgar Cervantes. I am an avid Android fan, and keeping myself updated on the topic is part of my daily life. I will always work hard to give the best of me to our community of Android enthusiasts, and I am very honored to be part of this ship. Hopefully we can all enjoy sharing our knowledge and opinions!

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  • spazby

    palm pre was my first smartphone and I loved webos. it was a great system that did not catch on… Android did the best thing ever to keep it open and it is why it is a superior system to anything out there. it is just too late for webos to get going, i think.

    • Jorge Eslava

      I don’t think its too late for Webos; however, in order to get going they will have to open source, and also start innovating. If they open source and play catch up they will never succeed.

    • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

      I only agree to her saying that another mobile OS is needed now. All the other statements are just pure BS. She forgets that Google made its money from advertising and selling services, they never used the Apple/HP business model. Now that Android has reached so many people, Google will maintain its course. Her statements only show even more (even if it was not needed) that RIM didn’t understand nothing about Android. Make webOS open-source and you will see the benefits.

  • Deeds

    If they want to have any chance, HP needs to open source now, because Android doesn’t show any signs of slowing its growth

  • KenG

    So how do you take something out of the public domain? Google may keep tighter control of android but Whitman is resorting to one of the tools she learned in business school – spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

    • dcds

      While Google cannot close past releases, since they were already released under apache (and thus can already be used), they can keep future releases closed. Or even based on that same code (unlike stricter GPL).

      Apache doesn’t force future releases to be open source as well, and we saw that happening with honeycomb…

      Of course, they closed honeycomb for good reasons (don’t be evil, benevolent dictator model), but that shows the theory.

      Now… I don’t think Google would close source Android. Open Source is in the DNA of Google and benefits them big time.

      • thel0nerang3r

        Go to you android settings, about phone. See that where it says “kernel”, that’s Linux. Not as in “just like Linux”, but as in “the kernel comes from Linux.” I would love Whitman to explain how Google could claim it.

        • dcds

          I never said anything about Linux. You did. I didn’t.

          I’m aware of the Linux foundation in Android. The overall architecture view, at least.

          So, while the Linux core is released under the GPL v2, the rest of the Android stack isn’t, and that’s released under the ASL 2. The only way imaginable for Android to be “attracted” by the copyleft (the so called “viral license phenomenon”) would be the rest of the Android stack be considered a “derivative work”. Florian Mueller tried very hard to push that theory some time ago, but it obviously didn’t work (yet, if ever).

          And that didn’t work yet because, as far as we know, the rest of the stack calls the Linux kernel by use of the system call interfaces, and both Linus and the almighty RMS (who would have all the reasons to say the opposite, but he is honest about what he says and what he believes) said that it didn’t constitute a violation of the GPL v2 in the Linux kernel. RMS called it “less bad than Apple or Windows” in part because of that.

          That is, as far as it indeed calls the Linux kernel by its interfaces, thus not being attracted to its copyleft obligations.

          All that said, the fact that the Android settings show some GPL notice about the Linux kernel absolutely does not allow us to reason that Google can’t, theoretically, close source that valuable _part_ of the Android stack. They can, because 1) that’s not a derivative work of the Linux kernel; and 2) its license doesn’t impose such duty.

          Of course… they would still _need_ to release whichever modifications they made to the Linux kernel.

          So, yes, they can take “it” (i.e., future, still unlicensed versions) from the “public domain” (correction: ASL 2.0).

          • dcds

            ps.: obviously, when I say “valuable _part_” I mean the non-Linux, ASL 2 code.

  • jonathan3579

    RIM and HP… Their relevance in our green world hold little relevance. One ship sunk and the other is quickly plummeting to it’s demise.

  • GRAW

    She failed as a politician, so now she heads a failing company? Should’ve seen that one coming…

    • spazby

      I don’t think HP is failing…

  • Sir Alex

    She is the CEO. She must be right. Let me get on the webOS bandwagon immediately.

  • Bryan Stoner

    I wouldn’t let the mouth of one quack from HP deter the facts of Google’s OS. And even if WebOS does go open source, i doubt people will care.

    • http://genesischess.com/ MJM128

      Too little too late sort of thing. It’s a pity because WebOS could’ve been so much more.

  • Paul Jamieson

    Well she didn’t get the CEO job from her looks !! lmao …

  • Chris Lewis

    Technically android “can” become closed sourced, based on the idea that anything can happen. That doesn’t mean shit tho.

    She would be just as accurate saying ios “can” become open sourced.

    This makes Meg look like she doesn’t have any idea about the industry.

    • inviolable

      lol this is what I thought in my head, almost verbatim

  • thekaz

    Of course she threw out the “fragmentation” buzzword.. she’s a former politician. They thrive on using buzzwords that people (read ‘electorate’) like to throw out there without really understanding what it really means.

    I hate that fragmentation word. I understand there is some truth in it, but it because a buzzword for haters to throw out there. I am sure creating fragmentation is not in Google’s long term goals for Android.

    Heck, I’ve got a laptop for work dual-booted for XP and Win7…

    • delinear

      It’s hard to see how an open source WebOS wouldn’t be subject to the same kind of fragmentation anyway. HP already got out of the hardware market, so if they open source their OS they are going to see manufacturers stick it on all kinds of devices, from low level dumb phones to high level smart phones, tablets, maybe even TVs, etc. How is she going to ensure the OS works 100% the same across the board on all those devices for all available apps?

      You either accept some level of fragmentation as the price for freedom, or you put hard limits in place or control the hardware, in which case that’s no kind of open source I recognise. The only thing they could do to mitigate fragmentation a little bit is to not allow manufacturers to skin the OS with their own custom UIs, which would only fly IF they can create a vanilla OS that can surpass what both Android, Apple and Windows are doing 2 years down the road – that’s a ridiculously tough challenge.

  • Leo Young

    How do you take something out of the public domain? Not release it to the public domain.
    Android is not even remotely open source. Google writes it and releases it to the world when it gets around to it. It is closed until then.

  • http://theinternet-allofit.blogspot.com Jorge Branco

    It’d be easy enough for the OEMs just to start developing and doing whatever they want from ics if they close it. Not that they will

  • http://None Javier Bastardo

    I applause WebOS going open, but we can all agree Android is not all the open it could be, still is the best choice for mobile software out there, and Google has made something amazing with it.

    I’ll be waiting to see what webOS and Boot 2 Gecko have to offer, until then, and even maybe after them, I have Android, and I couldn’t be happier with it, even if it’s not as open as some may hope it was.

    • inviolable

      Could you expound on the shortcomings of android’s openness?

  • kungpaodragon

    What is up with these CEOs making these baseless statements? It’s not just a personal opinion, it’s a baseless stupid personal opinion. Does she know Google at all? Seriously. Anyone who follows technology enough would know Google has always been a proponent of open source. (Except their search algorithm, but get real, people. And knowing only Apple products does not qualify you as knowing technology at all. As a matter of fact, Apple dumb down technology and that’s when it starts to gather a huge gathering… I digress.) So to get back to what I was saying, to say that Android is heading towards a closed system, she better have a pretty good rationale. Now I can see Google taking control and setting guidelines for handset makers to address fragmentation issues, but that hardly makes it “closed”. The day Google sues someone for “jailbreaking” their OS is the day Android becomes “Closed”. Until then, well, I just don’t see that happening.

  • CTown

    Let’s see if HP could do this before either (1) Tizen is released or (2) Tizen dies and (yet again) gets reincarnated into another open source OS…

  • inviolable
    • jonathan3579

      Okay okay. You got it. Lol.

  • Max.Steel

    Stupid woman. Stupid statement.

  • Dave Kratter

    “For those who may have forgotten, HP quit the hardware manufacturing business last year.”

    I assume you mean MOBILE hardware manufacturing. They still manufacture the best servers and good desktop PCs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/williamhester William Hester

    I’m pretty sure that Google wouldn’t close-source Android, as the whole openness and freedom is kind of what Android is centered around.

  • Lulu

    Does the job description for CEOs says and only says ‘BSing about other companies’ nowadays?

    The only thing she got it right is the industry needs another good competitor. But if she has even paid any attention to the Android OS, she won’t make such stupid predictions.

    It’s like saying iOS will go open-source soon. =__=”

  • Shawn Clark

    …Until I see some kind of action from statement she just made…she has some miles to put on the road to pass Google. Plus her predictions are off, way off.

  • anamika

    “she believes another mobile OS is necessary for the industry” -> With windows dominating 90% of desktop why don’t i hear more we need more desktop OS for competition?

    • delinear

      We do, it’s just hard for other desktop OS’s to gain any traction when Windows is such a dominant force. One of the reasons MS bailed Apple out in the 90′s with a big cash injection was so they could stand up in court and say “look, here is a competitor, we don’t own the entire market”.

      Just look at how long and hard fought the browser battle has been, IE became the #1 browser back in the late 90′s/early 00′s and it’s held that position for over a decade, it’s only in recent years that competitors have started to make a dent, and that’s been driven by quality competing products, the growth of mobile etc all lending weight to the argument to leave IE. Google would love Chrome OS to be a competitor for Windows but they know it’s a long, hard road ahead – even for a company with their money. Any smaller company trying to take on Windows is going to struggle. Even weakened, MS can still afford to throw money at the problem of competition to make it go away, especially when it comes to protecting their core desktop products (Windows and Office).

  • yankeesusa

    Its funny how companies that have no place in the mobile os department talk so much. But she is taking over something that she didn’t manage before but before you start talking why not wait and see the results first.
    Plus google may not close android but they may start putting restrictions so as to help with fragmentation which wouldn’t be a bad thing. But right now what makes android so profitable is allowing everyone to tweak it the way they want. Example: HTC and htc sense and beats. That is a perfect combination and i plan it to be my next phone unless the nexus decides to add removal memory to their phone.

  • rovex

    I have an HP notebook, but now she is CEO i feel i cant keep it. She is an awful human being. At least i can use eBay again!

  • SGB101

    they are not just in it for patents, they want the set top box division, for Google TV.

    they will spin the phone divison off, and it will be run separate. i reckon the reference (nexus) design, will be moto from now on, but it will be a yearly project, the same as now. other than that moto will do there own thing.

    now i see Google re moding the set top box division of moto, and building Google or even androind TV, standad alone boxes and also googlre cable/dish/freetv boxes, and sell them for peanuts.

    the most lucrative add space is the TV, google owns zero of that pie! i dont thing android (phones) had much to do with the acquisition.

  • zerosix

    Oh, she’s quite ugly.

  • http://www.brokemanstech.com Juan Almanzar

    I wish HP hadn’t given up so easily with WebOS. I bought a touchpad during the firesale and loved how polished the OS felt. I also felt that there were a few key things that could easily make the tablet so from good to fantastic.

    1) Keep the card system but implement a gesture system to quickly swipe between them (how the playbook operates).

    2) Win over developers and get some better/free apps over to the platform. When it is missing something like Netflix, I feel the entire thing really isn’t worth it.

    These are honestly the only things I don’t like about my touchpad but they are major things, especially the second one. Forget making it open source, bring developers over and success will follow. That and stop making obnoxiously small phones when it clearly shows the market is over that trend and is going in the complete opposite direction.

    • zerosix

      Well, mr Duarte is now working for Google… You know what to do.

  • BigCiX

    Meg Whitman = Greed
    Meg Whitman = Firing employees
    Meg Whitman = Sending jobs overseas
    Meg Whitman = Only cares about $ and not her workers.

    I hope she fails like she did trying to govern California. Hopefully HP will make it.

    • Mark

      Doesn’t matter if they open source it. The hacker community and developer community is the lifeblood of Android more than Google I believe. I mean it’s great to have Google working on the core and adding features and such, but if it weren’t for the developer community and apps would it be as popular? If it weren’t for all the hackability and customization to the core would we all really enjoy it as much? If WebOS becomes open source and developers and hackers back it up then doesn’t really matter about Meg Whitman.

  • Mark

    Well to be brutally honest, I’m more anti-IOS than I am Pro-Android. If Android became close sourced or WebOS became a lot more popular in the hacking/development community than I’d switch to WebOS without issue. I like the openness and customization of Android and if that ceased to be the case, or if another open sourced project became more popular and hackable then I’d jump ship, sure. I’ll see you over at webosandme.com :-)

  • h0ruza

    All these old people (CEO’s) seem to think it makes them cooler to talk about Android somehow failing at some point.


    They bore me with there hunger for the ears and eyes of the press.

  • Dustin Earley

    Every time I see this picture, I can’t help but feel like Meg is giving me the finger.

  • tROubLEd-One

    Nothing wrong with having another competing OS.The only part I do no agree with is the statement she made of Android becoming “closed source”.