Enyo's End Is Not Nigh
It appears the reports of webOS' death are once more exaggerated. True, several key members of the Enyo development team have joined Google, but the project is evidently still alive and well. Another release of Enyo is on the way, and the core of Enyo 2 is "solid," HP insists.
May 29, 2012 9:43 AM PT
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 several unnamed sources. The departing team is said to be almost wholly responsible for Enyo's code. Enyo replaced Mojo as webOS's software development kit in 2011.
It is unclear what this move will mean to HP. In December 2011, it announced it would contribute Enyo to the open source community.
Enyo 2 Lives
HP declined to provide further details, but in a blog post, it acknowledged that some key members of the Enyo team have left the company.
However, the majority of the engineering and leadership team was still in place, HP said, and the company planned to redouble its efforts to continue development, working closely with the open source community.
It added that another release of Enyo is on the way and emphasized that the core of Enyo 2 is "solid." After the Enyo release, HP plans to focus on expanding the Onyx widget set.
The team is hiring, according to the post, "not just to replace the engineers who have left, but to increase the size of the team going forward."
An Android Play
Clearly, the team's move will give Google a competitive boost, witht the engineers likely to develop more tools for Google to use to further crack open the mobile space via its Android platform.
"No one will argue with the fact that the user experience and interface under webOS was very elegant," James Brehm, senior strategist and consultant with Compass Intelligence, told LinuxInsider.
Google could use help in this area, said Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research for Global Equities Research.
"Android has always lagged iOS in terms of usability, so this could give it a boost in that competition," he told LinuxInsider.
The Chrome Strategy
The migration of some of the webOS team presents another intriguing possibility, Brehm added -- that Google will use its talents to enhance Chrome, its App Store, and its convergence across different form factors.
The team's bona fides in HTML5 design and coding would be very complementary in that respect, he said.
Certainly HTML5 aligns with where Google is taking Chrome, John Jackson, an analyst with CCS Insight, told LinuxInsider.
"For that reason I would expect this to relate more to Chrome development than Android, but the two are not mutually exclusive," he said.
In general, firms are making a significant amount of investment to accelerate the maturation and stabilization of HTML5 as a next-generation mobile technology, noted Jackson.
Bringing those webOS developers in house, he continued, "would be very consistent in terms of what we expect Google's long-term strategy to be with Chrome."
There are many unknowns, though, and thus it is difficult to say exactly how the team members' move to Google could boost its competitiveness, Brehm said.
"One immediate question I would have is who would be in control of whatever projects they work on," he said. "There are some very big personalities at work on Android and Chome at Google, and how much control they would be willing to cede to incoming webOS team members is difficult to say."
Also, the webOS team members might find the Google work environment vastly different from HP's corporate culture, he added.
Google did not respond to our request to comment for this story.