HP revives webOS again, in new unit called Gram
Aims to encourage internal and partner innovation and find role in cloud platforms
Published: 16 August, 2012
WebOS refuses to die. The former Palm operating system, acquired by Hewlett-Packard and then sidelined into an open source project, will now be the focus of an internal start-up called Gram.
According to an internal email, HP is recruiting staff to run the unit as an independent subsidiary, apparently to discover whether there is still a place for the firm in the mobile device market, which it exited when CEO Meg Whitman took the helm and dropped the firm's smartphones.
Gram will include webOS, plus related software platform products such as the Enyo development tools, and products for delivering cloud content. This suggests some revival of the webOS strategy briefly pursued by Whitman's predecessor Leo Apotheker, who wanted to embed the Linux-based software in every web-connected gadget and claim a role in the internet of things, rather than seeking to go head-to-head with Apple and Google in handsets.
"We are no longer a consumer hardware brand, we are a different company with a focus on software, user experience, cloud, engineering and partnering," wrote SVP Martin Risau in the email, obtained by Bloomberg.
Not that HP is putting itself on the line for this experiment, which it stressed will run in stealth mode "to give it time to grow" (or allow it to die quietly should it not deliver results). WebOS is now available to third parties under an open source licence which requires users to contribute their changes back to the platform, so Gram may prove to be a coordinating center for those innovations.
HP added: "Gram is a new company leveraging the core strengths of webOS, Enyo, and our cloud offerings as well as the firepower of our partners to create a technology that will unleash the freedom of the web."