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Here We Go Again: HP to Sell WebOS?

By - Source: Reuters | B 17 comments

The company is apparently eager to recoup losses from its billion-dollar purchase of Palm.

The fate of HP's webOS has been hanging in the balance ever since the company announced the discontinuation of the TouchPad tablet and Pre line of smartphones. Yesterday we were given renewed hope when HP started offering webOS developers cheap TouchPads in an apparent attempt to keep them sweet. However, if the latest scuttlebutt is to be believed HP is considering selling off webOS.

According to a report from Reuters, newly appointed HP CEO Meg Whitman is considering selling off webOS in an effort to recoup some of the money the company spent purchasing Palm. HP bought webOS developer Palm for $1.2 billion in April of last year. At the time, HP was excited to acquire the webOS platform and then-CEO Mark Hurd was quoted as saying webOS was the reason for the purchase. Now, it seems the company isn't so interested in the operating system and Bank of America Meryll Lynch is said to be advising the company on potential buyers.

Reuters cites several sources that say a number of tech companies have expressed interest in acquiring the OS, which is made more attractive by its patents. These sources say Amazon, RIM, IBM, Oracle and Intel are among the interested parties. If these sources are correct, the winning bidder could end up with quite a bargain, too. HP might have spent $1.2 billion to acquire the OS just one year ago, but in the year since then, webOS has not received any significant investment, so it's likely that if it were to sell, it won't be for a very high price. One source that spoke to Reuters is quoted as saying it 'won't be the most robust auction in the world'.

HP last month abandoned plans to sell or spin off its personal systems group, deciding instead to hold onto the division. The company has not yet made a decision regarding webOS.

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  • 7 Hide
    alyoshka , November 9, 2011 10:06 AM
    These guys really can't seem to makeup their minds. I wonder if their inability to come to a decision is going to be the end of a nice OS.
  • -3 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 9, 2011 10:23 AM
    This horse isn't even beaten to death... it was raped, beaten to death, resurrected, raped and beaten to death again and the sticks it was beaten with are now nothing more but dust, and the horse's skeleton is a pile of fine white powder. Please, can we hear no more about pathetic HP's webOS failure? It was targeted wrong (TouchPad sounded more like a tablet for an IT professional, while the bulk of tablet buyers buy them for consuming media) and priced wrong. Let it go.
  • 0 Hide
    STravis , November 9, 2011 10:35 AM
    In the previous column - about the Touchpad sales - I posted that these guys don't know what the he// they are doing and someone jumped all over me. Here we are again, but a day or two later and they are flip flopping. They need to STOP THAT, if they plan to get anyone to support their offerings.

    BTW, who could they be selling webOS to and for how much of a loss? Right now the battle is with iOS, Android and Win7...webOS might be better but I don't see any of those players (who can afford to drop 500M for it) buying it, unless it has a lot of patents that come with it.
  • Display all 17 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    robwright , November 9, 2011 11:57 AM
    I think they should put WebOS on eBay and see what it pulls. If HP has screwed up this much already, they might as well just go all out and plead insanity down the road.
  • 0 Hide
    chomlee , November 9, 2011 12:19 PM
    This could be a good thing for WebOS. The fire sale in itself put a ton of devices out there in peoples hands and if you look at the reviews, people really seem to like the OS. If the right company purchases WebOS, that could be a very good thing.

    FYI, Best Buy still has the 32 Gig tablets but you have to buy an HP Laptop or Desktop to get the $150 price tag. I was lucky in that a Laptop and a Tablet where both on my christmas shopping list.
  • -4 Hide
    memadmax , November 9, 2011 12:56 PM
    Just release the source code and watch it grow to dominance as "linux" for the smartphone.
  • 1 Hide
    ta152h , November 9, 2011 1:53 PM
    There's nothing conflicting about this and selling the Touchpads cheaply to developers. It's not going back and forth, it's probably all part of the same plan.

    IBM or Intel might be better for WebOS than the others. Amazon would probably dummy it down, and they're more of a retailer than a real tech company, although that seems to be slowly changing. RIM? Who are they? Does anyone even care anymore? Oracle. Ellison is a jerk, and I don't think them owning WebOS would thrill the industry, or get many partners. They aren't that easy to work with.

    Intel would port it to x86, for sure, and want to sell hardware with it, so that's a downside. But, they'd invest heavily in it, and would make it inexpensive to license, since the main purpose would be to promote hardware sales. They'd want it very attractive, and they have the deep pockets to do it.

    IBM has a lot of software experience, and created OS/2, which was very good software. Why they'd want it is somewhat of a question; it's not clear how it fits into their business model. Sadly, it might be for the patents, and little else. It might be that they see an opportunity to make money from it by licensing it, and if that's the case, it would bode well for it. IBM has a lot of experience with software, and user interfaces, and if they decide to push this OS, could do a lot of good things for the industry. Of course, they killed OS/2, so ...
  • 2 Hide
    drapacioli , November 9, 2011 2:12 PM
    HP should admit their mistake and either start production again at a lower price or stop completely. No more of this half-assed approach. I wanted a touchpad, missed it on the fire sale by 3 minutes at my local store, and since then have been waiting for more to go to the public as they promised, however they instead can't even keep up with employee and dev demands, how the hell are they supposed to expect devs to support a product with no future?
  • 0 Hide
    drapacioli , November 9, 2011 2:13 PM
    And I dont' need a new computer, I bought one a month ago. now all of a sudden if I want one at all I need to buy a computer at best buy for it? bullshit.
  • 0 Hide
    wlachan , November 9, 2011 2:57 PM
    WebOS is done, HP is done.
  • 1 Hide
    g-unit1111 , November 9, 2011 3:01 PM
    Dammit HP - either sell WebOS or don't - stop leaving us to guess.
  • 0 Hide
    nurgletheunclean , November 9, 2011 3:49 PM
    I don't understand what the big deal is. Dead or not it really doesn't make a difference. The TP is already capable of dual booting Android. WebOS works for consumers who want the basics (email, web, ebooks, calendar, flash, angry birds). Unless you are HP all this vanishing WebOS talk is really irrelevant.
  • 1 Hide
    cptnjarhead , November 9, 2011 4:19 PM
    I wish someone else had purchased Palm. HP destroyed something very dear to many people, including myself. I was hooked on palm from my first treo. WebOS is a work of art and hp crapped all over it. You dragged us loyal Palm/WebOS fans along, with your lies.
    I hate you HP... hope your stock goes flatline______________________
  • 0 Hide
    tuch92 , November 9, 2011 5:29 PM
    I've only used WebOS on my Touchpad and it works great, but I'm not sure how it would feel on a phone sized screen. Anyone here have any experience with it?
  • 1 Hide
    cptnjarhead , November 9, 2011 6:05 PM
    tuch92I've only used WebOS on my Touchpad and it works great, but I'm not sure how it would feel on a phone sized screen. Anyone here have any experience with it?

    I have the pre+, pre2 and the touchpad. WebOS has the best mobile gui out there imo.
    the main drawback with the preX's, is the small screen. The pre3 is a little bigger, but not enough for people used to big real estate. If WebOS went to the big 4.5" phones.. total win.
    Dont get me wrong. webos needs fixed. people shouldn't have to patch something to make it work properly, but i still love it.
  • 1 Hide
    FlayerSlayer , November 9, 2011 8:21 PM
    tuch92I've only used WebOS on my Touchpad and it works great, but I'm not sure how it would feel on a phone sized screen. Anyone here have any experience with it?

    I had an original Pre the very instant I could find one in stock to buy. The operating system was pure art. Smooth, intuitive, flawless multitasking, effortless interface, pure perfection (barring a few bugs that mostly got patched). The phone was kinda small and the hardware was underpowered, but it worked with far more grace than Android does as of 2.3. Had the Pre3 come out in the United States before HP killed it off, I would have likely gotten one instead of the Android phone I begrudgingly got instead.
  • -1 Hide
    eddieroolz , November 10, 2011 3:28 AM
    Jeez, again. Either way, webOS is going to be the forgotten child.
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