LG’s smart TVs ship with an operating system called webOS, which is the latest version of an operating system that was developed by Palm to run on phones, acquired by HP to use with tablets, and eventually sold to LG, which is still using it today.
But now LG wants to expand the adoption of webOS and the company is working with the South Korean government to solicit business proposals from other companies interested in using webOS.
LG has also released a webOS Open Source Edition version of the operating system.
The open source operating system also includes a home launcher, support or notifications, and system apps including a Settings app and a version of Google’s open source Chromium web browser.
It’s unclear at this point whether the release of webOS Open Source Edition will spur development of new categories of devices powered by webOS. But the operating system’s history makes it clear that the software was never meant just for smart TVs. Maybe we’ll see new phones, tablets, game systems, or wearables running a version of webOS in the future.
But it’s also unclear what competitive advantage there would be to choosing webOS for those products rather than Android, which already supports a massive array of third-party apps (many of which are not yet available for webOS).
LG wouldn’t be the first company to take on Android, iOS, and Windows. Mozilla attempted something very similar with its Firefox OS, but that project has largely fizzled out. Jolla is still trying to make its Sailfish OS a thing. And Samsung uses its own custom versions of the Tizen Linux operating system for its smart TVs and smartwatches.