After Scrapping Bigger Plans, HP Says WebOS Still Has An Open-Source Future

Brandon Bailey | Mercury News | February 24, 2012

The future of webOS -- the innovative mobile software that three successive CEOs at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) have struggled to make into a profitable product -- may lie somewhere in the windowless rooms of a Stanford Medical School radiology lab. That's where researcher Andrew B. Holbrook is working on ways to operate a cutting-edge, million dollar medical scanner with the help of a discontinued model Palm smartphone that he bought online for $50.

HP had bigger things in mind for webOS when it paid $1.4 billion to buy Palm two years ago: Executives talked about putting Palm's critically praised software on millions of phones, tablets and even PCs. But after a predecessor abruptly abandoned those plans, CEO Meg Whitman decided in December that HP would release the code under an open-source license, which means other companies and individuals like Holbrook are free to come up with their own uses.

Stanford's Holbrook, who has a Ph.D. in bioengineering and a tinkerer's enthusiasm for writing code, has been working with other researchers on using the MRI in conjunction with new treatment techniques for removing tumors or unwanted cells without invasive surgery. But as a sidelight, he's used webOS software to create new applications for tracking and adjusting some of the MRI's functions...