Meg Whitman may have big plans for WebOS, the little mobile operating system that couldn’t, but it looks like whatever she’s planning doesn’t require a large portion of the current WebOS development team. The company has laid off 275 employees in its mobile section. Most of the affected employees are engineers, which makes a lot of sense, since HP has no current plans to offer any more WebOS hardware. The laid off workers will join former Palm executive Jon Rubinstein, who voluntarily left HP last month. Some of the employees may be redeployed within HP, but not all.
Hewlett Packard announced plans to make WebOS a completely open-source operating system back in December, months after completely abandoning its tablet and smartphone plans. While HP is retaining its ownership of WebOS after purchasing original creator Palm last year, it’s allowing the open source community free reign to modify and distribute the code – not unlike Google’s strategy with Android. The company hopes that OEMs will take advantage of a competing free and open source mobile OS and produce new hardware on their own, though no one has taken up the offer at present.
Unfortunately, a lack of hardware plans means a smaller team is need to stay profitable. “As WebOS continues the transition from making mobile devices to open-source software, it no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before,” said HP spokeswoman Mylene Mangalindan. HP will continue to over see and publish WebOS in its open source format, but new devices – at least from the computer giant itself – are out of the question for the time being.