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HP Cutting 275 WebOS Jobs as It Makes Software Open-Source

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Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s biggest personal-computer maker, is cutting 275 engineering jobs and other positions at its WebOS business, part of a plan to turn the operating system into open-source software.

The move follows the company’s announcement on Dec. 9 that it will release WebOS under an open-source license, letting outside developers tinker with the code and use it in their products. Hewlett-Packard, which gained WebOS in its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm Inc. in 2010, discontinued its own hardware that uses the operating system in August.

“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,” Mylene Mangalindan, a spokeswoman for the Palo Alto, California-based company, said in an e-mailed statement. “HP is working to redeploy employees affected by these changes to other roles at the company.”

The company had undertaken a previous round of WebOS-related job cuts in September, and former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein left the company in January. Even as it scales back the operation, Hewlett-Packard is trying to drum up interest in WebOS as an alternative to mobile platforms from Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

While Hewlett-Packard no longer makes TouchPad tablets and Palm Pre phones, which had used WebOS, the company has said it might introduce a new device running the software in 2013. Still, Hewlett-Packard doesn’t expect to make another phone with the software.

Hewlett-Packard fell less than 1 percent to $26.18 today at the close in New York. The shares have lost 40 percent of their value over the past year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Ricadela in San Francisco at aricadela@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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