HP stopped making webOS hardware in 2011 when the company discontinued the TouchPad tablet and Pre and Veer smartphones. But HP pledged to keep webOS alive by making the mobile operating system an open source project — and the company’s been working toward that goal in recent months.
But HP eliminated about half of the jobs in its webOS division and plans to eliminate another 8 percent of its workforce (27,000 people) soon. So it’s hardly shocking that some of the folks on the webOS team might look for opportunities elsewhere.
The Verge reports that a number of developers on the Enyo team are moving to Google. Enyo is the HTML5-based framework for developing webOS apps, and the list of defectors includes Matt McNulty, the head of the project.
It’s not yet clear what those folks will do once they get to Google, but it seems like a safe bet that they could be involved in Android development. Google’s Matias Duarte who is largely responsible for designing the look and feel of Android these days was also responsible for heading up the webOS design team when he worked at Palm… before that company was acquired by HP.
Not all of the Enyo designers are heading to Google, and HP says it’s still committed to its open source roadmap for webOS. But at this point it’s not clear that anyone aside from some webOS enthusiasts will actually use the operating system once it transitions to open source.
While open webOS could theoretically provide an alternative to Google Android, Tizen Linux, or even iOS or Windows 8, HP hasn’t announced any plans to release phones, tablets, or other devices with webOS in the future. And no third party companies have announced any plans to develop products with the OS.
So the news that members of the web are leaving the company sure makes it feel like we’re watching sailors abandon a sinking ship.