HP claims webOS death an "unfounded rumour"

Hewlett Packard's Todd Bradley, in charge of the now-reprieved Personal Systems Group, has rubbished rumours that webOS is dying out without committing to a reintroduction of his company's popular TouchPad tablet.

In a televised interview with Bloomberg, Bradley called a recent report in the Guardian claiming that staff at the webOS software division were clearing their desks in anticipation of impending closure an "unfounded rumour."

The future of webOS, the Linux-based mobile platform HP acquired when it purchased PDA pioneer Palm, hasn't been looking good of late: HP's decision to focus more on enterprise software and hardware applications saw it close down the webOS hardware division completely, selling off its remaining stock of TouchPad tablets and Pre 3 smartphones at knock-down prices.

While the company's webOS hardware arm may be closed, it has yet to make a formal decision of the future of the software division. Before its decision to buy Autonomy, HP had claimed that webOS was the future - to the point where it envisioned selling PCs and laptops capable of dual-booting between Windows and webOS, as well as using it as the basis for its 'smart' printer systems.

Although it's looking increasingly unlikely that HP will revive the TouchPad line - other than as a Windows 8 tablet, as recent rumours have suggested - it is clearly still convinced that it can turn a buck or two from webOS, possibly by licensing the software to third parties.

There are webOS fans, however, who believe that such a thing could prove a disaster. Instead, they're campaigning to convince HP to release the source code for webOS under a free software licence, so that the community can take over support for existing webOS devices and potentially port it across to other tablets.

An open-source release of webOS would, theoretically, put HP's platform on a level footing with Google's Android - but with Android enjoying a far larger ecosystem of third party developers, it would likely fail to offer true competition.

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