Why an open source WebOS will help Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 tablets

By Preston Gralla

It's not clear what the effects will be of Hewlett-Packard's attempt to revive its dying WebOS by making it open source. But one thing is clear: The move won't hurt Windows Phone 7 or upcoming Windows 8 tablets, and may even help.

HP's purchase of Palm for $1.8 billion last year, in good part to buy WebOS, will go down as one of the biggest blunders in the technology business. Since the buyout, HP has bungled the handling of WebOS so that now it's barely an afterthought aside from people looking to buy bargain-basement WebOS-based TouchPads.

This last-ditch effort to save WebOS likely won't work. There's already an open source mobile platform, and it's the most popular mobile platform on the planet -- Android. Given the success of Android, and the vast developer ecosystem that has sprung up around it, it's not likely that WebOS will gain much traction.

Microsoft will be helped by HP's move, not hurt by it. If HP had put developer, manufacturing, and marketing muscle beyind WebOS, it could conceivably have become a third OS to compete against iOS and Android, because Windows Phone 7 still hasn't taken off, and Windows 8 tablets are a long time away. But by making WebOS open source, HP is essentially putting it out to pasture.

Windows 8 tablets will clearly benefit. Colin Gillis, senior tech analyst at BGC Partners told the BBC as much. Here's what he said:

"The real winner here is Microsoft. It no longer has to contend with what would have been another viable operating system as it prepares to launch its Windows 8 tablets."
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