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HP Businesses Operating Systems The Almighty Buck

HP Pondering Sale of WebOS 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the historically-predictable dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters reports HP is seeking to sell WebOS, at the bidding of its financial advisers. Sounds like open sourcing it is off the table. From the article: 'HP is trying to figure out how to recoup its investment in Palm, viewed by many analysts and investors as an expensive foray into the smartphone market that has not paid off. Several technology companies have expressed an interest in buying the division, which is seen as attractive for its patents, the sources said. Amazon.com Inc, Research In Motion, IBM, Oracle Corp and Intel Corp are considered to be among the companies likely to be interested in the asset, industry sources said.'"
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HP Pondering Sale of WebOS

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  • by grub (11606)

    Sell it to RIM!
    • by Flyerman (1728812)

      QNX > WebOS

      Unless RIM sells QNX to someone who can do something with it.

      • QNX is a nice kernel, WebOS has a nice UI. Ripping Linux out of WebOS and replacing it with QNX might make a nice system.
  • I can't see what Amazon would do with it. They're heavily invested in Android now with their existing devices and Android App Store.
    • "Several technology companies have expressed an interest in buying the division, which is seen as attractive for its patents."

      Nothing could possibly go wrong with this.
    • I think the answer you are looking for is there in the summary. They would want the patents. Maybe some things in android could be improved with those patents?
  • Talk about a disaster. Again.

    Where's it going to stop? Oracle hiring Linus? :)

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @05:46PM (#37991228)

    Amazon is already heavily customizing Android to the point where they are kind of diverging from the mainstream - they may as well go further and add in some WebOS ideas into the system. I think it could be a great match. They would have the most unique Android tablet by far, which they are already a good ways along with.

  • I personally have found webOS to be the best one. I think webOS has suffered because of poor hardware not because there is anything wrong with the OS. Bought a touchpad during the firesale and really enjoy using it, only complaint is the obvious lack of apps.
  • I'd assume they would be interested in the Palm patents.
    • There's a lot of nifty design choices that I really like in WebOS, more so than in Android if I'm being honest. Snatch it up, open source the code, keep the patents in reserve for the next round of the patent wars, and give Android a bit of a face lift. Seems like a wining formula to me.

  • by gmuslera (3436) *
    If they blend the best of Maemo, Meego, Tizen, Symbian and WebOS, all laced with Qt, they could get an ecosystem. Too bad is located at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, where only strange creatures lives in. They still have a chance before Microsoft curse finish to kill them.
    • by Lisias (447563)

      Nokia already had this hands full trying to convince his developers to stay around (I'm not saying they aren't managing to get it, just that they are pretty busy doing that).

      With Symbian going down, the WP7 entry point and Linux going up (as Nokia recently stated [slashdot.org]), I don't think Nokia has any momentum to spare trying to push WebOS on their software pipelines.

    • by thsths (31372)

      > If they blend the best of Maemo, Meego, Tizen, Symbian and WebOS, all laced with Qt

      The question is: why would you want to blend together all the approaches that failed in the mobile space? Maemo clearly had potential, but it failed to attract any customers.

    • by SpzToid (869795)

      No, Meego-partner Intel should buy WebOS and use what it can to prop up Meego, to replace what Nokia dropped. Intel should also support the Qt development environment, for all the same reasons.

      I could see Intel distributing/supporting Meego on various phones/tablets/netbooks in this regard and enjoying similar success, just as Google has done.

      The only reason Intel wouldn't do that would be not to piss off Microsoft, but Microsoft is less relevant in the mobile space and Intel wants to be there. Hey, its alm

  • by y2imm (700704) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @05:50PM (#37991314)
    I have a Pre and Touchpad, because of webOS. My Pre died pre-maturely *yup, thanks* and I replaced it, with a Pre. I've had the old Windows Mobile, Palm OS, proprietary systems, Android, and iOS. Palm/HP hardware sucks, but the OS is the sweetest ever. Intuitive, smooth multitasking, just gorgeous. To lose it would be a shame, especially if the alternative is iOS. Inelegant by comparison. Yes I know, a gillion apps. Same for Android.
    • by Amouth (879122)

      one thing that pissed me off about webos - when you select text that is larger than the text box.. how the hell do you scroll back to the left??

      • by EETech1 (1179269)

        yeah, some arrow keys would be nice... anyone know how to make that happen?

      • After the text is selected, you expand the area of the text with the two little arrows on the top and bottom of the text box. In order to move around (presumably so that you can select more text) you lift your finger, then drag the screen as you would normally. After you've moved (closer to) where you need to be, drag the little arrow again. You can also zoom while you're selecting text.
        • by thsths (31372)

          Yes, but Android 2.3 has a much better solution for that. (Android 2.2 sucked in pretty similar ways.)

          Cursor keys would have been another option, but I find that this works pretty nicely for me.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I keep hearing how great WebOS is. I don't get it. I have a Pre. It's a work phone. A work phone as in, I work for HP, so I have to have a Pre. Trust me, I would never buy one out of my own pocket.

      I certainly do not find WebOS "intuitive". What's with all this swiping the screen to make a "deck"? Why the hell do I have to swipe the deck off of the top of the screen to close it? How, in all that is holy, is that "intuitive"? Why can I never find the fucking settings the one time I need it every month or so
      • Why the hell do I have to swipe the deck off of the top of the screen to close it? How, in all that is holy, is that "intuitive"?

        I'm always careful of using the word intuitive about any UI, but it seemed natural to me. I didn't read any documentation about WebOS before using it, and flicking a card away from the top of the deck to get rid of it seemed like the obvious way of getting rid of it.

  • Will it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @05:51PM (#37991322)

    At this point, exactly how many developers or software engineers does HP have left in its WebOS department? Probably not many. If they sell it now, it'll basically be just a pile of source code, not an intact team that's experienced with it and can do something with it. This is something these stupid corporations never seem to understand: that the real value is not just in some product, but having an engineering team behind it that has years of experience developing it, and knows how to use it and modify it for customer needs. It's not easy putting together a competent team from scratch, and even if you do manage to get good people, it takes a long time for them to come up to speed, especially if there's no other experts around they can talk to.

    • They fired the hardware team, the WebOS team is still there.
      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Are they? Are you sure? I have a hard time believing none of them have left for better jobs after hearing their project was being shitcanned. You seem to be assuming that employment is a one-sided affair, and that employees can only leave a job if the company lays them off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @05:57PM (#37991428)

    The current HP CEO has been in her job for weeks. It'd make more sense to wait and see what the next one thinks.

  • by CHK6 (583097) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @05:59PM (#37991486)
    So Bank of America Merrill Lynch advises HP to sell off WebOS. First off when is a bank a place to ask about the futures of computing? Technology innovation is based on having a vision and setting forth to achieve such goals. So instead of HP gathering rank and file from within HP asking, what plans or vision is there still within HP for WebOS, HP goes down the street to what is basically Lucy from Charlie Brown comics and asks for advice from a bank. Well gee, what would a bank tell you? Stick with it and build a solid infrastructure and growth channels around WebOS or to liquidate it in an auction and have the immediate cash in hand. That's asking a wolf advice on how to protect the chicken coup.

    The HP board are not visionaries, technologist, or engineers. These are the wealthy dumb butts that corporate obesity produces. I'm actually ashamed of HP.
    • I would love to run HP and do a 'second coming Steve Jobs' on it.

    • by thsths (31372)

      > The HP board are not visionaries, technologist, or engineers.

      Well, HP had an engineer as a CEO. And although he made far fewer mistakes than the CEO before him, he didn't really do all that well either.

    • by tchdab1 (164848)

      I believe the bank and/or Merrill Lynch also stand to reap a commission ($ millions) if HP actually does execute a sale of WebOS. I know, it's insane, but NYT ran a recent story that several HP acquisitions were completed under advice from teams like this that also participated in the sale/transfer and got huge commissions for that turnover.
      Another argument against the efficiency of private business.

  • "Sounds like open sourcing it is off the table."

    It's like Deja vu all over again.
  • Go Meg, Go!
  • by residieu (577863) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @06:08PM (#37991634)

    "its investment in Palm, viewed by many analysts and investors as an expensive foray into the smartphone market that has not paid off"

    Well sure, buying a company for its smartphone and then never actually releasing a phone with those assets is an expensive foray with little payout. Maybe if they'd actually put out a product before the Pre enthusiasts drifted off to other platforms, they'd have done better. I was very disappointed when I had to give up my Pre because I realized the Pre 3 was nowhere on the horizon.

  • This is starting to get old - hp is doing this, now they're not, then again, but wait, but no.

    C'mon, make a decision!
  • Seriously, did they really think Palm wasn't going to fail? What on earth were they thinking? Has Palm ever done an OS correctly? EVER? Lets see, their competitors were Apple, which has been lauded as the most user friendly in every type of OS they've ever produced... Google, who doesn't seem to be able to write anything that geeks don't love... and Microsoft... ok, maybe they could steal all 25 of Microsoft's mobile customers. Good Business decision HP... oh wait, I forgot, HP makes all their money off of
    • Re:Morons (Score:4, Informative)

      by smbarbour (893880) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @07:26PM (#37992702)

      Seriously, did they really think Palm wasn't going to fail? What on earth were they thinking? Has Palm ever done an OS correctly? EVER? Lets see, their competitors were Apple, which has been lauded as the most user friendly in every type of OS they've ever produced... Google, who doesn't seem to be able to write anything that geeks don't love... and Microsoft... ok, maybe they could steal all 25 of Microsoft's mobile customers. Good Business decision HP... oh wait, I forgot, HP makes all their money off of printer ink.

      Let's see, when Palm was first starting out, their competition was Apple in the form of the Apple Newton... I remember how the Newton flew off the shelves... oh wait... no they didn't... Palm PDAs were flying off the shelves. In fact, Palm's OS was put into a smartphone an entire DECADE before Apple got into the market. Then came Windows CE, which actually was competition for Palm. The original developers for Palm split off into their own company called Handspring, which produced the Treo (which first ran Palm's OS). Palm acquired Handspring, and for some strange reason, switched the Treo to run Windows Mobile. ALL of this happened before Apple and Google entered the smartphone market.

      • by dachshund (300733)

        Let's see, when Palm was first starting out, their competition was Apple in the form of the Apple Newton... I remember how the Newton flew off the shelves... oh wait... no they didn't... Palm PDAs were flying off the shelves.

        Hmm, I always felt like Palm's first OS was just MacOS (pre-OSX) rebranded into a portable format. Everything from the fonts to the icons to the dialog boxes looked the same. I mean, you couldn't move the icons or resize the windows, but that was about it. It even felt like MacOS at

    • by dhalsim2 (626618)
      webOS is actually an excellent operating system. I was a huge Android fan until I got my TouchPad. I bought it with the intention of scrubbing webOS and throwing on Android as soon as a port was available. After using it for a while, I realized how good webOS is and that moving to Android would be a downgrade. The only major problem with webOS is the lack of apps.
  • IBM is emphatically NOT an end-user-focused company. They explicitly fled away from that market years ago. What on earth would they do with WebOS that couldn't be done easier and cheaper with some other OS?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      IBM will buy it for sure. After rebrand, it will be called... wait for it... WebOS/2!

    • IBM generally sells business solutions and technology - the latter sometimes as patent licenses, sometimes developing products and selling them off. For example, the popular "swiping" method of keyboard entry on smartphones came from ""ShapeWriter" (previously SHARK), an IBM product they sold to another company to commercialise.

      I'm sure there are a lot of assets in WebOS that could be developed. For example, what if you go a step beyond Apple's Siri, and integrate a smartphone interface with the deep AI of

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        and none of that needs webos.

        they can hack linux and sdl together themself.

    • In the same vein why would RIM want WebOS when they already have QNX? Or Amazon with the Kindle's OS / Android already developed.
      Oracle doesn't have much to do with tablets and already have Solaris. And I don't see why Intel would want an OS and if they did being designed for a tablet using their competitor's Quallcomm uprocessors on it, might not especially help.

      Really, if this is the list of potential buyers... they probably don't have a good chance for selling it. Sorry guys, but hopefully you've updated

    • IBM might be in for the patent.
      On the other hand, as they are more open-source friendly, and don't really need a phone/tablet GUI right now, maybe they'll open-source the closed source part of the code.

  • I've heard that both of the people who use WebOS are very happy. Keep it alive!

  • I've always thought that WebOS was great, it just needs a little fine tuning and a little ecosystem of services to support it. Why not bring in a few really talented, creative people who can refine the user experience and help develop the platform a bit, then get it in the hands of people at a fair price point. It's really one of the better operating systems out there, and the fact that they have it and don't know what to do with it implies terrible things for HP.
  • If some random company buys webOS *without* Palm's IP/patents, they would be sued the second they actually used it in a product. These days, if you don't have a decent patent warchest, it doesn't matter how good your product or software is... webOS is a useless asset without the patents, either Palm's or already owning a similar rich set already.

    For those that realize this, the list of possible buyers now becomes much, much smaller...

  • The people who have actually used it, myself included find the UI very good indeed.

    Nobody is suing about it.

    For a tablet/smartphone manufacturer, having a superior UI backed with lawsuit-proof code is the way out of the legal clusterfuck involving Apple, Google, and even Micro$oft . . . which appear to have collectively concluded that since they can't compete on superior technology, that their road to future growth is to sue its competing OSs out of existence.

    Personally, I hope Apple and Google and
  • An all-hands-on-deck meeting just to hear Meg Whitman recite her version of Hamlet's soliliquiy? Leo Apotheker must be cackling loudly while counting his golden parachute lucre.

    However, this sordid affair does prove there is no afterlife, as evidenced by the fact neither Hewlett nor Packard have come back to strangle everyone at HP HQ that's wearing a suit.
  • Why would HP sell WebOS? We are clearly moving to thin devices so it would seem WebOS is a key asset to lever.
  • I would ideally want WebOS to go open source. It seems that's not going to happen. What about selling it to RIM? They have decent hardware ( the PlayBook comes to mind) - with webOS they'll have decent software as well. They should stop spending time on the Android emulator. ( As BB tablet owner how would you feel running ( sometimes crappy ) Android software on an emulator? ) Their current generation of phones are (theoretically ) capable of running WebOS as is the Playbook. Dear RIM, please pay and buy W

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