Unnamed sources within HP are claiming that Amazon may purchase the remnants of Palm. The news arrives after HP kicked out former CEO Leo Apotheker and hired on Meg Whitman as a replacement, and just after Amazon revealed new Kindle devices including a 7-inch, Android-based Kindle Fire tablet.
According to the HP insider, there are a number of entities wanting to purchase what's left of Palm, but apparently Amazon is the one closest to actually finalizing a deal. Currently it's unknown if Amazon will be buying Palm’s hardware business, the webOS platform, or both. However HP is wanting to get rid of Palm "as soon as possible," so it's quite possible that HP will set up a fire sale similar to the weekend-only $99 TouchPad clearance for anyone willing to buy the former webOs/smartphone maker.
Sources also point out that former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein currently holds a vague "product innovation" role at HP’s Personal Services Group, but also joined Amazon’s board late last year. There's speculation that Amazon wants to get its hands on webOS so that it can spout Kindle tablets that don't use Google's Android OS, thus separating the Kindle brand from a sea of Android tablets flooding to the market. As it stands now, Amazon has customized "Gingerbread" on the Kindle Fire to the point that it's nearly unrecognizable.
HP's future in regards to webOS is somewhat mixed: some reports claim that the OS is on hold indefinitely, while others claim that HP plans to use webOS on other non-tablet, non-smartphone equipment. Back in July, Rubinstein even hinted to Amazon serving as a partner. There was no talk of selling off the software, but merely licensing the software out to other parties.
"We’d like a partner that would allow us to expand the webOS ecosystem," he said in an interview. "There’s a variety of different sets of a characteristics to qualify as a good partner. I would say Amazon would certainly make a great partner, because they have a lot of characteristics that would help them expand the webOS ecosystem. As to whether there’s been discussions or not… that’s obviously not something I’m going to comment about."
But if Amazon purchases what's left of Palm -- including the hardware and webOS -- the online retailer will be in an excellent position to introduce Amazon smartphones. The company already has Amazon Wireless up and running in beta form, and what it really needs is its own branded smartphone, complete with exclusive hardware an software.
HP originally paid $1.2 billion for Palm back in 2010. By comparison, Amazon will undoubtedly pay next to nothing.