HP has finally made up its mind on the fate of webOS on Friday saying that it will make the mobile operating system open source in the hope that it will live on by being used by companies like HTC looking for a alternative to Android and Windows Phone 7.

“HP today announced it will contribute the webOS software to the open source community,” the company said in a statement before adding: “HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.”

The company is hoping a move similar to how Nokia treated Symbian will mean it has the potential to thrive rather than die a quiet and lonely death.

“webOS offers a number of benefits to the entire ecosystem of web applications. For developers, applications can be easily built using standard web technologies. In addition, its single integrated stack offers multiplatform portability. For device manufacturers, it provides a single web-centric platform to run across multiple devices. As a result, the end user benefits from a fast, immersive user experience,” states HP trying to put a case forward.

Those benefits could be embraced by manufacturers like HTC who have in recent months seen their two main operating systems being squeezed. Motorola was recently bought by Android maker Google, while Nokia has become the preferred partner for Microsoft and the Windows Phone 7 OS. 

HP will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. Developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers can deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace.

However it seems HP isn’t putting much faith behind the OS confirming that it won’t be making phones running the OS any more, and won’t be bothering with tablets, like the HP TouchPad, running webOS until 2013 at the earliest, instead focusing on Windows 8 tablets in 2012.

Whether the world will be interested in a webOS powered tablet from HP in two years time however will have to be seen, but in the meantime we could see someone else stepping up to take on the challenge. 

- HP ditches webOS devices