After what seemed like an endless stream of delays, HP has finally decided the fate of the webOS platform.

While we had many promised decision dates on the Palm-developed operating system, newly installed HP CEO Meg Whitman announced today via press release that the company was going to contribute the operating system to the open source community.  “webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable,” said Whitman.  “By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.”

HP has plans to continue supporting development of the platform, and they will be maintaining a blog at where developers and users can provide input and suggestions to the future of the platform.

Along with this announcement, HP also laid out four goals they hope to achieve with this plan:

  • The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the webOS platform
  • HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
  • Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
  • Software will be provided as a pure open source project

Along with webOS itself, HP also plans to release the application framework ENYO in the near future and any of the other remaining components.

With webOS now going open source, this means we could see it end up on a slew of devices just like Android has.  From tablets to phones, after a little bit of development there is no reason we can’t imagine a Samsung or HTC phone hitting the market with webOS to take a spot in your carrier store right next to an Android handset.  Tablets?  Also a definite potential as we’ve already seen the OS running on the TouchPad.

There was a lot of speculation out there that HP would sell off webOS to another company, and next to no thoughts that it would go open source.  To call this move surprising would be an understatement.

What do you think about the future of the webOS platform under the open source banner?