Most of HP’s webOS team, including Matt McNulty, head of the project,is moving to Google according to a report by The Verge citing severalunnamed sources. The departing team is said to be almost whollyresponsible for Enyo’s code. Enyo replaced Mojo as webOS’s softwaredevelopment kit in 2011.
It is unclear what this move will mean to HP. In December 2011, itannounced it would contribute Enyo to the open source community.
Enyo 2 Lives
HP declined to provide further details, but in a blog post, itacknowledged that some key members of the Enyo team have left thecompany.
However, the majority of the engineering and leadership team was stillin place, HP said, and the company planned to redouble its efforts tocontinue development, working closely with the open source community.
It added that another release of Enyo is on the way and emphasizedthat the core of Enyo 2 is “solid.” After the Enyo release, HP plansto focus on expanding the Onyx widget set.
The team is hiring, according to the post, “not just to replace theengineers who have left, but to increase the size of the team goingforward.”
An Android Play
Clearly, the team’s move will give Google a competitive boost, withtthe engineers likely to develop more tools for Google to use tofurther crack open the mobile space via its Android platform.
“No one will argue with the fact that the user experience andinterface under webOS was very elegant,” James Brehm, seniorstrategist and consultant withCompassIntelligence, told LinuxInsider.
Google could use help in this area, said Trip Chowdhry, managingdirector of equity research for Global Equities Research.
“Android has always lagged iOS in terms of usability, so this couldgive it a boost in that competition,” he told LinuxInsider.
The Chrome Strategy
The migration of some of the webOS team presents another intriguingpossibility, Brehm added — that Google will use its talents toenhance Chrome, its App Store, and its convergence across differentform factors.
The team’s bona fides in HTML5 design and coding would be verycomplementary in that respect, he said.
Certainly HTML5 aligns with where Google is taking Chrome, JohnJackson, an analyst withCCS Insight,told LinuxInsider.
“For that reason I would expect this to relate more to Chromedevelopment than Android, but the two are not mutually exclusive,” hesaid.
In general, firms are making a significant amount of investment toaccelerate the maturation and stabilization of HTML5 as anext-generation mobile technology, noted Jackson.
Bringing those webOS developers in house, he continued, “would be veryconsistent in terms of what we expect Google’s long-term strategy tobe with Chrome.”
There are many unknowns, though, and thus it is difficult to sayexactly how the team members’ move to Google could boost itscompetitiveness, Brehm said.
“One immediate question I would have is who would be in control ofwhatever projects they work on,” he said. “There are some very bigpersonalities at work on Android and Chome at Google, and how muchcontrol they would be willing to cede to incoming webOS team membersis difficult to say.”
Also, the webOS team members might find the Google work environmentvastly different from HP’s corporate culture, he added.
Google did not respond to our request to comment for this story.