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HP To Axe Half Of The WebOS Workforce

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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275 webOS workers lose their jobs despite HP’s previous assurances they would be redeployed

HP is to axe almost half the team that works on the recently open-sourced mobile operating system WebOS. A person familiar with the matter claims that 275 of the 600 strong workforce will lose their jobs.

“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,” an HP spokeswoman said in a statement. “This creates a smaller and more nimble team that is well-equipped to deliver an open source webOS and sustain HP’s commitment to the software over the long term.”

Job today, gone tomorrow

HP had said that those working on WebOS would retain their jobs, although this no longer appears to be the case. The statement does confirm, however, that the company would try to find other jobs at HP for those affected by the streamlining.

HP announced it was going to open source WebOS last December after months of speculation about its future, and said it was going to be active in the development and support of the platform. The company plans to make WebOS available as open source code by September under the Apache 2.0 licence system, with software tools and a beta release to debut before then.

HP acquired the operating system when it acquired Palm and used it in the TouchPad tablet, which lasted just six weeks before the product line was terminated by former CEO Leo Apotheker, just before he was ousted.

This left the final decision regarding WebOS’ future in the hands of his replacement Meg Whitman, who made the decision to open source the software rather than sell it to an interested suitor.