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Rumor: HP Wanted $1.2B For webOS, Didn't Get It

VentureBeat reports that HP tried to get rid of its Palm-based assets over the latter half of 2011, but didn't land any buyers because the company was asking for the same price it shelled out back in April 2010: $1.2 billion. But given that consumer demand looked the other way when the Touchpad hit the market, and that the only new webOS-based phone on the American market was the AT&T exclusive HP Veer 4G, it's no wonder third parties weren't lined up for the assets.

Based on the asking price, HP was looking to take absolutely no loss whatsoever save for whatever the company invested in its Palm-based products after the April 2010 acquisition. As VentureBeat points out in its "exclusive" report, Palm's value has fallen significantly since HP's acquisition. The Touchpad's failure didn't help, and the Pre 3 and Veer 4G's limited release only seemed to spell certain doom for webOS and Palm.

HP reportedly held discussions with Amazon, Samsung, Intel and many others. At one time there were even reports that HP approached social website Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but as VentureBeat alleges, was seemingly "laughed out of the room" (Zuckerberg reportedly didn't say much during the meeting).

For months we waited on the edge of our seats to discover the fate of webOS after HP made the "we're not sure what we're going to do" announcement back in the fall. We felt empathy for those involved with webOS as they waited month after month to see if they still had a job. But earlier this month HP came to a final decision just before the nails were completely gnawed down to the cuticle, a move that could eventually pay back the $1.2 billion HP shelled out for Palm and webOS in the first place: HP made webOS open source.

Many may disagree, but this was a brilliant move. Like Google, HP can develop the OS and throw it at manufacturers who in turn can customize it to fit their software and hardware needs. And like Google's Android, carriers can insert their bloatware and advertise the end devices as exclusive, feature-packed solutions. The only drawback is that HP will really need to work on the webOS ecosystem, to draw app developers in and convince them that webOS will one day rule the mobile world.

VentureBeat speculates that HP is either a terrible negotiator, or it never really wanted to let go of webOS in the first place. At this point it really doesn't matter -- the software is now open to more possibilities than what was available in its previous state. For HP's sake, let's hope it can turn the $1.2 billion investment into a $20 billion investment in the coming years.