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LG Electronics Buying webOS From HP

By - Source: CNET | B 15 comments

Palm's ill-fated webOS may have a fighting chance after all.

Looks like Palm's ill-fated webOS operating system may get another chance on the consumer market, as Korean electronics giant LG is reportedly acquiring HP's webOS Global Business Unit for an undisclosed sum. LG, best known for its smartphones and HDTVs, will obtain the source code, related documentation, engineering talent, and related webOS web sites. The company will also acquire licenses from HP, and those HP obtained from its acquisition of Palm.

LG is expected to make a formal announcement Monday afternoon from Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, but early reports indicate that the company won't use the OS in its smartphones, but rather future Smart TVs. One unnamed source even claims that webOS team members who once worked on various mobile products at HP have already departed.

News of LG's acquisition of webOS may come as a surprise for some given the platform was seemingly left for dead despite HP's open-source attempt. But LG has reportedly hovered over the webOS carcass for some time, trying to determine if the platform would be edible. Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics, said it will create a new path for offering "an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices."

LG's acquisition of webOS adds a new chapter to the platform's long rollercoaster storyline. It was first developed by Palm to give the long-standing name a fresh look in the mobile space, a reinvention. It powered the Pre and Pre 2 smartphones, and showed some promise despite Palm's struggle against Apple and Google's Android.

Smelling the possible scent of victory, HP swooped in and acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010, wanting the platform for its planned army of tablets and smartphones. But the TouchPad, launched in July 2011, fell flat on its face the moment it left the starting gate, thus HP pulled the plug on all webOS projects and discontinued the TouchPad in just over forty days on the market. The remaining inventory was sold off in a $99 fire sale.

Since then, HP has thrown the platform's license-free components into the open-source crowd. HP also kept the full OS close in case it decided to build webOS-based products down the road. But given that HP just announced a 7-inch tablet sporting Google's Android platform, it appears as if HP has abandoned all hopes of using webOS after all.

CNET reports that the webOS offices in San Jose and Chicago will be moved to LG's global R&D locations in Silicon Valley alongside LG's own Sunnyvale and San Francisco sites. In addition to acquiring the webOS platform, LG said it will continue to support devices that use the OS.

The financial terms of the webOS acquisition were not disclosed as of this writing.

UPDATE: LG released an official announcement which can be accessed here. The company said that HP will continue to support Palm users. LG will also assume stewardship of the open source projects of Open webOS and Enyo. HP will retain ownership of all of Palm's cloud computing assets, including source code, talent, infrastructure and contracts.

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Display 15 Comments.
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  • 2 Hide
    m32 , February 25, 2013 5:12 PM
    Google should've bought it, since I think they could use some parts of it. Poor WebOS.
  • 2 Hide
    irish_adam , February 25, 2013 5:20 PM
    yeah the multi tasking ability of my HP touchpad is amazing, just a shame i have to dual boot android because webOS doesnt have the apps available to it. TBH i think webOS is better than android, if i had access to the apps on android without dual booting then i would never load up android on it
  • 0 Hide
    becherovka , February 25, 2013 5:41 PM
    I think this is more about "engineering talent" + "patents" + some of the "sorce code" rather than LG bringing WebOS back.
  • 2 Hide
    g-unit1111 , February 25, 2013 5:41 PM
    Web OS is a GREAT mobile phone OS with Flash and unparalleled multitasking. Damn you HP for buying Palm and killing it before it reached a mass audience. Hopefully LG gives it a good home.
  • 1 Hide
    tomaz99 , February 25, 2013 5:57 PM
    irish_adamyeah the multi tasking ability of my HP touchpad is amazing, just a shame i have to dual boot android because webOS doesnt have the apps available to it. TBH i think webOS is better than android, if i had access to the apps on android without dual booting then i would never load up android on it


    I have the same setup...but don't think webOS is as good as android...4.0+

    When the touchpad came out I think Android 3.0 was just released...so almost everything out there was on 2.3 or so. At *that time* WebOS was superior to those Android versions.

    Android has just come a long way in under two years...while WebOS remained stagnant.
  • 0 Hide
    COLGeek , February 25, 2013 6:35 PM
    Why buy WebOS and not go with a more robust Linux distro?
  • 0 Hide
    wemakeourfuture , February 25, 2013 6:49 PM
    COLGeekWhy buy WebOS and not go with a more robust Linux distro?


    They want something that is somewhat mature in the mobile space and have complete IP control
  • 0 Hide
    COLGeek , February 25, 2013 7:02 PM
    Quote:
    They want something that is somewhat mature in the mobile space and have complete IP control

    Good points, but I don't see WebOS making a dent in the mobile market because of the existing competition (Android, iOS, etc). Still IP control, given the new business model of success through litigation for copyright/patent infringement, is certainly highly desirable.
  • 0 Hide
    redeemer , February 25, 2013 7:45 PM
    Mobile OS market is going to be stacked, FireFox OS, BB10, Unbuntu!!!!
  • 1 Hide
    belardo , February 25, 2013 9:59 PM
    I'm guessing that they only paid $100,000 for webOS. This sadly reminds me of Amiga back in the 90s. Every time it changed hands it got worse and worse and every company died afterwards. The commodore curse.
  • 0 Hide
    shadowfamicom , February 25, 2013 10:28 PM
    I just love the way webOS runs and is laid out. I only bought a TouchPad for cheap to use it to watch some videos at a part time job as a convenience store clerk I had. But the OS itself I found really great to use, would have loved to have seen more apps for it though.
  • 0 Hide
    bookwormsy , February 25, 2013 11:30 PM
    So then whats happening with OpenWebOS?
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , February 26, 2013 10:43 AM
    So, how many BEEEEEEELION!!!!! dollars has HP wasted?
  • 0 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , February 26, 2013 4:08 PM
    Best news I've heard since HP took a dump on the Touchpad and webOS project. Looking forward to what LG will produce.
  • 0 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , February 26, 2013 4:08 PM
    Quote:
    So, how many BEEEEEEELION!!!!! dollars has HP wasted?

    Lots and lots and lots.