It seems oddly fitting, doesn't it? The day HP announces its first Android tablet, we learn that the company has sold WebOS to another firm.
WebOS's new owner is none other than LG Electronics, which says it will use the ill-fated operating system to power next-generation smart TVs—and perhaps more. According to LG Electronics President and CTO Skott Ahn, the deal will help LG deliver "an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices."
The word range is pretty open-ended. Since LG already has a rather successful line of Android devices, though, I don't imagine we'll see the firm resuscitate WebOS phones and tablets any time soon. That is, unless LG's management gets a kick out of totally egregious product cannibalization. But I don't expect they do.
As part of the deal, LG is getting the WebOS source code, documentation, "engineering talent," and "related websites." LG is also taking over the Open WebOS and Enyo open-source projects, and it's receiving "licenses under HP's intellectual property (IP) for use with its webOS products, including patents acquired from Palm covering fundamental operating system and user interface technologies now in broad use across the industry." HP, meanwhile, will get to keep Palm's "cloud computing assets, including source code, talent, infrastructure and contracts." Oh, and HP will have the fun job of supporting existing Palm users, too.
If you're wondering what WebOS sold for, you'll have to use your imagination. HP and LG have kept the financial terms of the deal under wraps.
HP snatched up Palm and its WebOS software in a $1.2 billion deal in August 2010. Barely a year later, HP announced that it would discontinue all WebOS devices and explore options to "optimize the value" of the software. Rampant speculation ensued about potential buyers for the software. At one point, Amazon was even rumored to be interested. But in December 2011, HP disappointed everyone by saying it would keep WebOS under its wing and turn it into an open-source project. I guess sell-off talks were still going on behind the scenes, however.
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