HP is to release the webOS handset and tablet operating system as an open source platform, making it available to outside developers and handset vendors while continuing to develop the software.
The company will also release the ENYO application framework under an open source licence.
"WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable," said HP president and chief executive Meg Whitman.
"By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices."
The decision comes after months of speculation and debate on the future of the platform. Former HP chief executive Léo Apotheker announced plans in September to abandon webOS hardware operations and close the Personal Systems Group.
However, while the announcement opens the door for third-party hardware vendors to adopt webOS, industry analysts issued a note of caution.
Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi told V3 that vendors will need to be convinced that strong leadership and co-ordination is in place to drive the platform.
"It is nice to see that a good OS is not going to waste, but I wonder who would bite. Open source does not mean that one vendor could use it to do end-to-end," Milanesi said.
"In theory this move could drive uptake and hence developers, but it could also just be a slower death."
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