HP's decision to contribute webOS to the open source community represents, at the very least, a detour from the company's plans to "double down" on the operating system acquired from Palm, Inc. The good news for fans of the OS is that HP will continue to invest in the software's development, albeit probably not at the unsustainable rate at which it was going it alone. And for webOS fans, the decision is certainly more favorable than another possibility that HP considered -- ending the development of webOS software as abruptly as it ended the hardware..

Still, webOS faces an uphill climb if it is to emerge as a viable option for device makers. HP itself says that it may not enter the webOS device market again until 2013 and we've seen no public statements from other major device makers champing at the bit to build devices based on the software, at least not in its current state. That means that the addressable market for webOS updates is the relatively meager installed base of TouchPads and the handful of Pres, Veers and Pixis, and many owners of those smartphones will likely move on as their contracts expire..