Officially HP hasn’t yet decided whether to kill off its webOS division. Unofficially, The Guardian reports it’s probably going to happen.
During a conference call discussing the decision not to spin off HP’s PC business as a separate company, HP executives yesterday said that a decision on webOS would be made in the coming months.
But the Guardian has been interviewing folks off the record, and members of HP’s webOS group say that it’s practically a done deal. Top level members of the webOS team have been jumping ship recently and if HP does decide to kill the operating system, it could affect hundreds of jobs.
It would also mean the end of the line for future webOS phones and tablets.
This summer HP canceled production of webOS hardware including the Pre and Veer smartphones and the HP TouchPad tablet. But the company has reportedly been looking at licensing the software to other hardware companies looking for an alternative to Android or Windows Phone. So far there haven’t been any takers.
There’s an active community of homebrew developers for webOS, so I suspect existing products will have a cult following for years to come. Heck, some people still walk around with Apple Newton handheld devices, even though Apple hasn’t made a Newton since 1998. But if The Guardian’s information is correct, the future for official support for webOS products could be pretty slim.
Members of the CyanogenMod team have already started porting Google Android to run on the TouchPad, which could help keep the tablet usable long after webOS support ends. We’ve also seen some efforts to port Android to run on the Pre smartphone — but the project doesn’t seem to have gotten very far.