Your Next Smartphone, Powered by WebOS?

The WebOS operating system, seen on HP's PlayBook tablet.

The WebOS operating system, seen on HP's PlayBook tablet.  (HP)

Look out, Android: Hewlett Packard has made a last ditch effort to salvage its investment in its webOS mobile operating system by making it completely free. 

By doing so, HP hopes to keep the platform relevant; HP acquired webOS in a $1.2 billion purchase of Palm in 2010, a purchase that has largely proved fruitless. By opening the OS up to developers and companies, HP is potentially taking on Google's free Android platform that has come to dominate handset makers.

The technology giant said on Friday it will make webOS available under an open source licensing agreement but did not detail the terms of the licensing deal it plans to offer, Reuters reported. 

The future of the webOS platform had been in limbo and looked bleak after HP killed its flagship webOS-based TouchPad tablet in August, following poor sales.

While Google has the world's most-used mobile system with over 550,000 devices activated every day, HP's webOS could be an alternative to companies who are apprehensive that the web search giant may compete with them directly in the smartphone handset market through its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility.

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HP had been considering a number of options for webOS, including a sale.

Reuters contributed to this report.