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HP CEO Says Google-Motorola Deal Could Close-Source Android 203

swandives writes "WebOS could be an important player in the long run as an open-source mobile OS, because Android could become closed source with Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman said during a speech at the HP Global Partner conference in Las Vegas. It may take up to four years for the complete impact of webOS to be felt, Whitman said. HP has said it would release WebOS — originally developed by Palm for phones and tablets — to the open-source community. The company bought Palm in 2010 but late last year announced it will not make devices that use the software."
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HP CEO Says Google-Motorola Deal Could Close-Source Android

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  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damicatz ( 711271 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:07AM (#39058395)

    HP has no reason to disparage a competitor for potential market gains, no reason at all. Nope.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:19AM (#39058473)

      Wouldn't HP have to have an actual product to be viewed as a competitor?

    • Re:Of course (Score:4, Interesting)

      by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:28AM (#39058537) Journal

      hahaha. This now calls into question "why?"

      as in, why would HP suddenly start making microsoft-esque misstatements and spew FUD about android? Does this mean they have given up? something else? The timing of post-acquisition is curious, unless HP has been making money off patent settlements on android.

      • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:40AM (#39058649) Journal

        Microsoft-esque? I don't think MS would make such a statement. "Google's OS could become closed source like the one we offfer! Wouldn't that suck?"

        • FUD - Fear Uncertainty and Doubt

          Most often associated with Microsoft business practices. Not that MS would make such a remark.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:12AM (#39059045)

          Yeah, from Microsoft it would be the opposite. "If even one of your employees ever used an Android phone to call in sick, your entire product range could suddenly become open source".

        • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:20AM (#39059137)

          This is more Alice in Wonderland than Microsoft FUD: "Our competitors successful open source platform will be come closed source and fail, while our failed closed source platform will become open source and be the savior of the industry!"

          Time to give the hookah back to the caterpillar, Meg.

        • Possibly. Companies like Samsung and HTC don't care about Android being open source, they care;
          • That it's cheap.
          • That they can customise it to differentiate their products.
          • That the bits that they don't customise are supported so they don't have to invest developer effort in them. Microsoft's offering is quite cheap (when you consider that Android manufacturers are already paying MS $15/handset for a nebulous patent license) and is definitely supported upstream. The customisability seems to have gone do
          • by mbkennel ( 97636 )

            Funny thing, Samsung's and HTC's customers don't care about Android being open source, they care;
            That it's cheap.

            Has anybody bought a Samsung or HTC because they liked one's crufty skin better than the others? No.

    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

      by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:30AM (#39058551)

      I think that it is more likely that we can chalk this up to just Meg being a little under informed about Android. ("Never attribute to malice what can easily be attributed to ignorance" and all that, dont'cha know.)

      I personally LOVE what she's done with WebOS by fully open-sourcing it and putting it on a nice LONG business cycle before expecting gains, but I just think she's talking from a position of ignorance of how Google's profit structure works with Android.

      Hopefully this will give her the opportunity to learn a bit more about it and perhaps find things that HP can take from Google's approach that will help bring WebOS back to the mainstream.

      As far as I'm concerned, WebOS is still light years ahead of both iOS and Android in terms of UI ease-of-use. It was never really given a proper shot to succeed and deserves a much more significant spot in the market than it's gotten.

      • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:47AM (#39058719) Homepage

        "As far as I'm concerned, WebOS is still light years ahead of both iOS and Android in terms of UI ease-of-use"

        As far as I'm concerned, OS2 Warp is still light years ahead of both Mac and Windows in terms of UI ease-of-use
        As far as I'm concerned, beOS is still light years ahead of both Mac and Windows and OS2 Warp in terms of UI ease-of-use

        as far as I am concerned, XFCE kicks the crap out of all the above, but what wins is what has the software that people want to use. That means that WebOS ls a distant last place because it has almost NO software to iOS and Android.

        HP knew that. They know that WebOS is a lost cause because outside of sending TWO free tablets to every single person that claims they will write software for the platform, they will never get to the popularity of the iPad or the soon to be fantastic (hardware wise and OS and apps wise) Android tablets.

        I write for both Android and iOS. I will NOT wrote for WebOS unless I am given a FREE tablet and FREE publishing to their store. Why waste my time with a dead before it started tablet? I'm already making money off of the top two platforms.

        that's the problem, good luck attracting developers to make the apps that will make people want to use the platform. HP should have PAID microsoft to write the Office suite for WebOS and gave it away free with the tablets and marketed to the Business crowd. They would have had a chance.

        • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

          by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:00AM (#39058905)

          Well. Glad to know your position isn't coming from one of total ignorance. /Sarc

          By the way, publishing to the WebOS App catalog has always been FREE. Just submit it to HP for inclusion and as long as it isn't total crap or spyware/virus filled, they will put it in. Failing that, WebOS still has a robust user community and you can easily have an app published through the community catalog as well.

          As far as FREE tablet goes, have you gotten one from Apple or Google (or any android maker) yet? No? Then you are just blowing smoke out your ass and being petulant when it isn't needed.

          The thing is that developing for WebOS is so stupidly simple it's almost laughable. Just take your EXISTING Anrdoid or iOS application, run it through HP's FREE app converter to convert it, do a little bug-testing and squashing and you're pretty much ready to go.

          Hell, if the small (at the time) Rovio team could convert all of Angry Birds to WebOS from iOS in EIGHT HOURS, I think you can manage it too. Unless you are saying that you aren't smart enough or just too lazy, which, given your generally snotty attitude, might just be the case.

          • It was the networks that killed WebOS, nobody else. hell they practically give away nice android phones, even Walmart has a nice android offering on their Straight Talk pay as you go line. I've tried friend's straight talk droid, its quite nice and like $129 without a contract. Where HP failed was in royally kissing the ass of the networks, if they could have gotten them to sell the Pre at like $60 with contract we'd see them everywhere, same reason why WinPhone is going nowhere as nobody is offering it che
        • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:26AM (#39059221)

          The problem with that fantastic android tablet hardware is that it appears to be on a 90 production schedule. I've been writing an app designed for both iOS and Android tablets. We had one client that was more intersted in the android tablets because they could get usb ports and use existing usb cabled barcode scanners.

          Well of the three android tablets we bought last fall, only one is still available. We even talked with a couple manufactures in china and they couldn't garuntee the tablets we orders three months from now would be the same as the ones we ordered today. That means if we were to go to market today with android as our lead platform we would have to sink a lot of money into inventory and hope we sold the devices because there is no garuntee that in six months we can find the same tablets. It's also a pain because we don't want to be in the hardware business. We want to sell the app and related support services for the software.

          The appeal of the iPad has been, if one breaks our customer can go to walmart or other big box store today and get another one right then and there. Also, in the past several of our customers had a bad experience with another solution that used propitarty hardware. They view the ipad as off the shelf defacto standard stuff.

          • by DdJ ( 10790 )

            Just FYI: you can use off-the-shelf USB barcode scanners with the iPad. I have done it. If the barcode scanner presents itself as a USB keyboard, you just plug it into the iPad's camera connection kit, and the iPad then thinks it's got an external hardware keyboard connected. Scans work.

            This isn't theory -- I tested it with my own USB barcode scanner. It does work.

            • We know about the camera kit trick. But the problem with that is:

              A) It requires a separate piece of equipment, easily misplaced, knocked offed, etc.

              B) It works today, but Apple's been known before to kill such work arounds with software patches down the road. It's far less likely they are going to kill bluetooth on the iPad in the next 18 months...

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            Why use barcode scanners? I can scan barcodes from the cameras on the devices. Works great even in lower light.
            the customer wanting to use a device just for the sake of using it is silly, did you tell them that the barcode scanners were not needed?

            • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

              by silanea ( 1241518 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @11:29AM (#39060315)
              Dedicated barcode scanners may still be required in places like high rack warehouses where the barcodes are too far away for a camera to reliably pick up. One such place I frequently pick up parts from uses gun-shaped laser scanners so that codes can be scanned from distances up to 10 meters away. Try doing that with your tablet/smart phone camera. Also hardware scanners, in my limited experience, locate and read the codes incredibly fast and reliably. The camera-driven apps I have so far played with on my Android phone take their time and often miss codes if they are recorded at larger angles. They sure have their uses, but in some commercial settings the drawbacks of the camera-driven solutions may well add up to a $ amount in additional work or time that justifies buying hardware scanners.
              • Bingo. The barcodes being scanned are outdoor and often can be in low or limited lighting conditions with dust, dirt, and speed is key. Motorola makes a pretty good ruggedized barcode scanner for the purpose that works extremely well in those conditions. If a little bit of dirt is obscuring the barcode we've found it still reads correctly 95% of the time.

                However here's the difference: the USB version is about $500. The bluetooth is about $800. Multiple that over 100 - 150 devices and it adds up...

      • As far as I'm concerned, WebOS is still light years ahead of both iOS and Android in terms of UI ease-of-use. It was never really given a proper shot to succeed and deserves a much more significant spot in the market than it's gotten.

        Ah, I see you haven't used WebOS on HP TouchPad.

    • HP has no reason to disparage a competitor for potential market gains, no reason at all. Nope.

      No fear Googorola will taste some fruit (company) soon enough.

    • You can't close source and open source project, you can only close source a branch of it ...

      Once open, open forever ... and knowing Google they would continue both ...

      • It shows a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the new HP CEO regarding how open source works from a licensing perspective. If I thought HP might have a wild chance, such an abysmal fail and propaganda lie has dashed that hope against the rocks of stupidity. HP's unsettling recent history isn't over; Whitman has jumped the shark already. Next batter, please.

        • C'mon, it's HP! Of course they have to hire yet another incompetent with no real knowledge of the business. Meg will really jump the shark when she sells all of HP's current corporate aircraft, gets a loan to buy a whole new batch, then fires a huge portion of the technical staff because the company is just so short on funds!

      • Actually you can by simply making sure the users can't run custom code on their device, or do you know a secret way to hack that tiVo? THIS, this right here, is why FOSS don't mean shit in mobile. With PCs you have a handful of bog standard parts and good luck anybody locking you out of the hardware, with phones all it takes is code signing or efuses to make that device a brick unless you do what the OEM tells you in the approved manner. After all, what good is having the code to modify if you can't actuall
        • Yup... nobody can run the open-sourced Android on their cell phone. []

          Well, maybe not nobody... But I can't. 'Cause nobody else bought my phone so they didn't make mods for it. Well, Ok, there is one mod for my phone. Ok, 2. But they aren't Cyanogen. So I can't really modify my device...

        • Ok fine, so the phones made by Motorola for Google will be closed source. That's called a BRANCH. Every other hardware manufacturer can still keep using the open source code from before the license change and even fork the project.
    • This is FUD pure and simple. And in a perverse way, it's actually a good sign for webOS and HP. HP has gone through four CEOs since it bought Palm and not one of them had ever bothered to spread fear, uncertainty, or doubt about Palm's mobile competitors until now. Is it possible that Meg Whitman actually cares about beating the competition?

  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:09AM (#39058409)

    Google doesn't make money from Android OS itself, Google makes money from the sheer volume of Android devices out there. Be it app purchases, targeted ads, search or whatever, the revenue Android brings in comes from everything except the OS. It wouldn't make sense for Google to close source it.

    Google is a massive company and if they wanted to make their own phones with their own closed OS, they'd have done it by now.

    • Point of clarification, google technically makes no money on android (i.e. no profits).

    • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @10:02AM (#39058935)

      The biggest threat is if google gets into the hardware business themselves and the other handset makers see this action as a threat. If google gets serious about making their own google branded phones and tablets watch how quickly LG, Samsung, and HTC start releasing phones with other OS's such as windows mobile or adopt another platform (like a webos).

      • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @11:03AM (#39059847) Homepage Journal

        f google gets serious about making their own google branded phones and tablets watch how quickly LG, Samsung, and HTC start releasing phones with other OS's such as windows mobile or adopt another platform (like a webos).

        You can bet Google is going to be working hard to make sure that doesn't happen, because while it wouldn't kill Android as a major player in the mobile phone OS space, it'd cost Android dearly. Google's press releases on the topic so far say they're going to be very careful not to give Motorola any kind of special access to the Android development process, or to give Motorola earlier access to new releases.

        That might seem difficult to do, but the fact is that Android development is already quite insulated from the rest of Google. With few exceptions, every Google engineer has access to every line of code from every project in Google -- and Android is one of those exceptions. In fact Android is even more isolated within Google than highly sensitive stuff like the search ranking algorithm. The highly-sensitive stuff is in the main repository alongside everything else, but with controls to limit access, while Android is in a separate repository entirely.

    • Why would it be suicide? They would share the source with their partners in the OHA and them alone. You don't actually think Android is open source for the benefit of the purchasers of the phone do you? If so, you're incredibly naive.

      Google is a massive company and if they wanted to make their own phones with their own closed OS, they'd have done it by now.

      Except for that pesky little fact that they have no infrastructure or experience in producing phones? So, no, before acquiring Motorola they would most NOT have been able to do that if they wanted to. That's the whole reason why they are buying Motorola so they CAN do so.

      • At what point did I say that the OS being open was a benefit to the users? If anything, I said it was a benefit to Google. Whatever perceived benefit the user has is merely a bonus. Even if another manufacturer uses AndroidOS and doesn't go for the full Google experience, Google will still benefit. People will still write apps for their OS, people will still use Google Search and just about everything revolves around the Google ecosystem. About the only people who have ever come close to supplanting Google

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) *
      The problem is not particulary google, but their partners, the device makers that close as much as possible their devices to tie them to their services. That you could jailbreak a phone and put a clean android on it is bad for them, and closing the source to avoid that could be a common request to Google.
    • Google doesn't make money from Android OS itself, Google makes money from the sheer volume of Android devices out there. Be it app purchases, targeted ads, search or whatever, the revenue Android brings in comes from everything except the OS. It wouldn't make sense for Google to close source it.

      Close, but not 100% correct. While the core OS is open source, their GAPPS package (GMail, Google Search, Maps, and soon to be Chrome etc) is closed-source, and OEMs pay Google for access. At even $5 per GAPPS package, I make that out to be more than $1bn

      Of course, there are OEMs that don't include GAPPS at all. Like Archos for their lower end tablets, and B&N/Amazon. But that's a different story all together.

  • by n122vu ( 1126345 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:11AM (#39058415)
    Can they even do that? In order to close-source it, wouldn't they have to remove the Linux kernel and basically rebuild the OS from scratch to keep from violating the GPL?
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:25AM (#39058509) Homepage

      Linux is the only piece that's GPL licensed, the rest is Apache licensed - not to mention fully written by Google so they're copyright holders and can relicense at will. So if Google wanted to they could have a tivoized phone with not a whiff of source for anything but the kernel out by the end of the day. Nothing stopping them but of course they can't take back what they've already licensed so others would just fork from the last Apache release.

      • I thought (not an expert in apache licensing) that apache would simply let you change the license downstream, not remove it from the existing stuff?

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          Changing the license of existing code does not affect those who have copied/derived/distributed/etc. under those terms. So long as someone out there is mirroring the code, you are essentially correct.

          Newly derived code may be changed by the copyright holder, since nobody has it and can claim to be licensed to it. The next release of Android may be closed since the changes were never released under open source. It doesn't change the fact that you can distribute the old code, or modify that code on your ow

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Not entirely sure what you're aiming at, the Android platform = the Linux kernel + Android-specific code. Google is the copyright holder of all the Android code, so they can pick any license they want. If Google had accepted third party contributions under the Apache license, then yes they'd be bound to use it under those terms. However, it doesn't contain any copyleft clause like the GPL, so they'd still not have to give any source code. If you want the oversimplified version, Apache is prettty much BSD +

    • That's a misconception. They would still need to provide the source for the Linux kernel (although there are plenty of proprietary commercial products that use the Linux kernel and don't publish their source code) but anything they built on top of it could be closed source. It's like publishing the blueprints for the basement of a structure, and then building a skyscraper on top of it with only the contractor and owner aware of the true floorplans of the building, and never the building's occupants or visit
    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )
      If they own all the copyrights, they can. However, they would indeed have to remove anything GPLed they don't own the rights to, and the existing released Open Source version would still be out there. Nothing at all would stop anybody from forking off the latest Open Source baseline. Hardware vendors would surely do that. So, not really, no.
  • Logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:11AM (#39058419) Homepage

    How is there any causal relationship between Google buying Motorola Mobility and close-sourcing Android? How would it in any way benefit Google to close-source Android? Even if they did, why would anyone use webOS as a replacement? Finally, how is HP still going with people like this running it?

    • by gorzek ( 647352 )

      Whitman's full of shit. Google has no reason to close the source of Android since Android itself is not a sold product and Google seems to have no interest in turning it into one. The only reason Android has become so popular is because it's free and open source. It saves the manufacturers money.

      That said, if HP opens webOS, I would be happy to see that. It's actually a good mobile operating system and it's a shame it's gotten so little attention. Even if it doesn't end up being used for phones, it would be

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

      The only reason I can think of is Motorola's tendency towards closed-ness (for example, locked bootloaders on nearly all devices)... But Google is buying Moto, NOT the other way around. The most likely result is the exact opposite of Whitman's claims - Moto devices may finally be reasonable propositions for people who want to ensure that there is some control of their device in their own hands, as hopefully Google will put an end to Moto's bullshit bootloader-locking practices.

      What's really annoying is th

    • Yeah. A day without Meg Whitman is...uh...a pretty good start.
  • Hey!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hymie! ( 95907 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:11AM (#39058423)

    Hey!!! Everybody!!! Look at me!!! I'm relevant!!! Over here!!! Look at meeeee!!!

  • Seriously, how does HP know this? Why is this news?

    HP doesn't know shit, it's saying what it wants, to keep it's stocks prices from jumping.

    Are we doing End of the World Predictions also?

    • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

      Are we doing End of the World Predictions also?

      We have been for some time, it's December 21st of this year.

  • "Apple's iOS dominates the mobile market, but it is also proprietary, creating a void and an opportunity for webOS to flourish as an open-source OS, Whitman said."

    Last time I looked, IOS was third behind android and symbian.
    Looks like they know the market and where they head.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:26AM (#39058517) Homepage Journal
    This is just trash talk from a competitor who failed in this particular market sector. Why even bother repeating it, other than as link bait?
  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:31AM (#39058563)
    Right, because the Google flagship phones (Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus) have been some of the most closed phones... Oh wait, they are some of the most open devices out there, far more open than the Droid you bought on Verizon or the Atrix you bought on AT&T...

    If HP really wanted an open source mobile OS why didn't they quickly release the source to WebOS? Heck, why didn't they actually make decent phones to go with WebOS? Like the Veer? Tiny, dimensions that make it nearly unusable, no software keyboard, no microSD card slot, proprietary charger, not even a headphone jack! Along with a tiny 910mAh battery. The OS was never really the problem with the Pre, Pixi and Veer, the problem was Palm (and later HP) could never make hardware that actually worked well and couldn't convince third parties to make WebOS devices. HP neither could get WebOS to the masses like Android (and Windows Phone 7) or make a single great smartphone like Apple.
    • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

      Actually, the hardware was ALL Palm.

      Basically every design we saw come out of HP after they bought Palm was a Palm design that was already "in the pipeline" and ready to release. So we never actually got to see any "HP" hardware designs, it was all leftover Palm designs until Apotheker committed professional suicide by shutting down the mobile division and threatening to shut down the PC division.

      Honestly, as soon as Mark Hurd got pushed out as HP exec I knew that Palm was in trouble. Apotheker was a "Ser

      • But even then, it was HP's fault they released the Veer and not the Pre 3 which was vastly superior in every way. It was almost as if HP was trying their hardest to kill WebOS. They sink a lot of money into buying Palm, then they randomly decide not to release phones that were already produced (Pre 3 in the US) and then they get rid of the rest of their already produced tablets at cost. And without a real reason. Now HP comes back and says great things about WebOS after it already killed it off in more ways
    • Right, because the Google flagship phones (Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus) have been some of the most closed phones... Oh wait, they are some of the most open devices out there, far more open than the Droid you bought on Verizon or the Atrix you bought on AT&T...

      Because companies can never change their minds or change direction, right? No, companies never do things like that. This isn't saying Google will do it, but it's extremely naive to think that they will forever continue to do what they do now.

  • The HP Visionaries (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:31AM (#39058571)

    "hey lets buy a flailing company and then sit on the technology long enough for itnto become uslesss and then sell it all at cost"

    I wouldnt trust the HP visionaries to predict the current weather righ now let alone the tech market.

  • by asserted ( 818761 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @09:35AM (#39058601)

    hey Meg, can you spell F-U-D? that's right, good girl!

  • ...since she's trying to 'sell' WebOS. To anyone. For nothing. Just to stay the least bit relevant in that market.

  • What's that in HP CEOs?

  • How about opening up an operating system that actually matters, like HP-UX?

  • Corporate suits clueless about technology and FOSS. Incapable of figuring out how to use the turn signal of a leased foreign luxury car.
  • I think the HP CEO has leapt to a conclusion without really thinking through the scenario. The short answer is, no, this will not cause the Android platform to become a walled garden. It made perfect financial sense for Google to aquire Motorola Mobility because it gives Google absolute and complete control over a hardware set with which to continue to develop Android. The advantages are numerous as Google can really create a first class operating system with direct access to the hardware layer. By deve
  • You mean the HP that had product placement on Project Runway for 2 years that you couldn't buy in the stores, then did a massive partnership with the show at the same time it decided to jettison all the products it was promoting? That HP?
    Because the only two things I'd listen to them for advice on is how to make printers or slowly become irrelevant.

  • Closed Source? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hordeking ( 1237940 ) on Thursday February 16, 2012 @02:46PM (#39063597)
    Maybe I'm stupid, but since Android is already open-source, wouldn't someone just fork off the last open version?

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