More Previews Than Open Source at HP IdeaLab

While HP is willing to let the public see software products in development, it's not asking for code submissions just yet.

At the re-launch of its Labs unit last week, HP spent the least amount of time on HP IdeaLab, although it will be the new face of HP Labs to developers and the general public.

HP intends the group to offer a peek at the company's early-stage developments. Software projects under development will be posted in an early but workable state, allowing the public to see them long before the products are released -- enabling them to provide feedback.

IdeaLab made its debut with a number of projects, such as: mscapes, which delivers digital content like games, stories and tours based on a mobile user's location; Interactive Relighting, a way of capturing and viewing 3-D images; CloudPrint Internet printing; BookPrep, which enables users to read and purchase out-of-print books on demand; Snapfish Lab, a series of imaging tools; and Color, an online color thesaurus offering names, synonyms and antonyms.

Russ Daniels, vice president and CTO of cloud services strategy at HP, said the effort originated because the company needed to get all its projects in one place.

"If you wanted to get a good picture of the innovative things HP was doing, there wasn't any single place to go," he told "So they motivation was to create a place where people could go and see what's up with HP from an innovation perspective."

The goals here at HP IdeaLab are two-fold: increase awareness of HP projects and gather feedback.

In particular, the move aims to improve HP's public perception when it comes to the enterprise software space. IDC ranks the company as the sixth-largest software company in the world, but the company's name hardly leaps to mine when thinking about enterprise software as readily as companies like IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and Adobe.

"We are increasing the role software plays in our businesses and the part we play to our shareholders," Daniels said. "We have a $3.6 billion R$D budget. That's a lot of money and our focus on that R&D spending is significantly around innovation that adds value to our customers."

Despite the effort to solicit and incorporate feedback from the outside community, Daniels added that IdeaLabs is not an open source effort.

The decision might seem strange considering that HP is a member of a large number of high-profile open source projects, like Eclipse, SOAP (define) and WSDL (define).

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