Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

Summary: It's debatable whether webOS's third owner---potentially Facebook after HP and Palm---would be the charm for the orphaned mobile operating system.

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HP is trying to sell its webOS and Facebook may be one of the few viable buyers, according to one analyst. The bigger question is whether Facebook can take a slick mobile operating system and make a big mobile move.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek made the argument that Facebook could buy HP's webOS. The rationale goes like this:

Mobile media is integrated. Google has Android in a vertical stack that now includes hardware via the Motorola Mobility acquisition. Apple has its iOS integration with the iPhone. Microsoft and Nokia are connected at the hip. And RIM has its integrated hardware and software mobile stack. If Facebook is going to be a player it needs to integrate its social services with an OS.

Mobile is gaining share. IDC reports that mobile Internet usage is eclipsing wired access.

Developers and carriers want another smartphone ecosystem. Facebook could bring a lot of developers to the party.

Misek's bottom line:

HP has stated that they are attempting to sell WebOS (the former Palm operating system). Based on our analysis of prospective buyers and our checks, we believe Facebook is the best fit. We see this scenario as most negative to RIM and Windows 8 as there would be another major competitor vying to be the third mobile OS.

Misek arrives at his conclusion by ruling other parties out. Most smartphone makers seem to be gravitating to Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. Others have their own OS and wouldn't need webOS. Misek added:

Due to Facebook's scale, developer community, and movement toward media (e.g., music) and communications (Messenger), it is possible that an acquisition of an OS asset like this could be a good option. Checks with developers indicate that they would support a potential Facebook OS, and industry sources have noted Facebook's historic interest in a mobile OS or heavily influencing one.

On paper, Misek's argument makes some sense. However, Facebook and the webOS wouldn't be a slam dunk. Among the headaches the webOS would bring to Facebook.

  • Facebook would have to align carriers;
  • It would have to design hardware---or at least manage outsourced options;
  • Facebook would have to certify devices on wireless networks;
  • And Facebook would have to integrate the social graph with an OS that has potential, but couldn't gain traction under its two previous owners (Palm, HP).

Of course, Facebook could buy the webOS and form some venture to create a Facebook phone, but it still takes management time. ZDNet's Emil Protalinski disagreed with Misek's take and has argued that Facebook could be better off developing its own mobile OS.

In other words, webOS could be a huge distraction to Facebook at a time where it is under fire from Google and its Google+ social network. The good news for Facebook is that it appears to managing Google well, but that doesn't necessarily mean it needs to run out and buy webOS and bail HP out.

Topics: Mobile OS, Hewlett-Packard, Operating Systems, Social Enterprise

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23 comments
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  • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

    It's no more room left.

    Facebook is Myspace, with just a longer shelf life.
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

      @Return_of_the_jedi
      U(return_of_the_crap)+(the linux crap) r funny ;) . I just lol @ ur comments :)))
      alek_sh2000@...
      • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

        @alek_sh2000@... <br><br>try: <br><br>Python 2.6.5 (r265:79063, Apr 16 2010, 13:09:56) <br>[GCC 4.4.3] on linux2<br>Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.<br>>>> f = "alek_sh"<br>>>> u = " 2000 times a day"<br>>>> k = f + "it"<br>>>> print k + u<br><br>finally:<br><br>Have a good bm today.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

        @alek_sh2000@...
        +1
        biobiobio
    • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

      @Return_of_the_jedi
      Python 2.6.5 (r265:79063, Apr 16 2010, 13:09:56)
      [GCC 4.4.3] on linux2
      Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
      >>> f = "alek_sh"
      >>> u = " 2000 times"
      >>> k = f + "it"
      >>> lol = "on Return_of_the_jedi s mom"
      >>> print k + u + lol

      finally:

      Have a good day. :D
      biobiobio
      • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

        @biobiobio <br><br><br>try:<br>if biobiobio apology:<br>except:<br>pass<br>else:<br>>>> f = "alek_sh"<br>>>> u = " 2000 times"<br>>>> k = f + "it"<br>>>> lol = " on Return_of_the_jedi s mom"<br>>>> biobiobio = " and your dad licked it off"<br>>>> print k + u + lol + biobiobio<br><br>Have a good day
        Return_of_the_jedi
  • nonsense

    you don't need a phone to prop a fad like facebook.
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

      @The Linux Geek Yes, the whole idea of FB coming up with a phone is crap. They unnecessarily end-up distancing big players (Microsoft & Apple).
      sandeep.splash
  • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

    HTC, Facebook, Amazon... the number of companies being proposed as likely suitors for WebOS would amusing if it weren't so sad, and it's said in part because the reasons given for the purchase are pretty silly. None of these companies has any business trying to develop an entirely proprietary platform to sell their limited services.

    I'm just waiting for an analyst to come along and suggest that HP would be the logical choice to buy WebOS, as it would provide them with an OS to compete with Apple and Google... er... oh, wait...
    dsf3g
    • HTC still makes the most sense

      @dsf3g

      ...they make great hardware, but are dependent on licensing software from others. A WebOS phone could easily be added to their lineup, and would set them apart from Motorola and Samsung. Even if they bought the OS and sat on it, it's great leverage for them when it comes to the bargaining table when Google or Microsoft want to talk licensing fees.

      Joey
      voyager529
      • Agree

        @voyager529 HTC is the ONLY company that makes sense.

        Facebook is a FAD company that by 2013 will be dead.

        Amazon is a "retailer", not a manufacturer. Their main bread and butter is selling other people's product.
        wackoae
      • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

        @voyager529
        "...they make great hardware, but are dependent on licensing software from others. "

        Yeah, but every OS hopeful is dependent on a robust developer community building apps for the platform.

        Nokia dumped Symbian for the same reason HP dumped WebOS. There are only three players in the Phone OS market: Apple, Google and Microsoft. And Microsoft stands a chance just because they have essentially unlimited resources to throw at it, and the company's survival could well depend on it (so they'll spend whatever it takes to make the platform successful).
        dsf3g
      • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

        @wackoae

        Actually, I believe Amazon make most of their profits on Kindle. They are now a hardware company. And a heck of a successful one, too.
        x I'm tc
      • They Need a Good Price

        @voyager529 WebOS is clearly devalued, they may only be worth the patents. HTC will always need to offer Android and WP if that picks up
        kingcobra23
  • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

    facebook would be in trouble if twitter purchased a mobile OS..
    Stannky
    • What? Are people really this clueless

      @Stannky Both Facebook and Twitter are FADs. They have zero long term viability. Facebook will be on life support by 2013 and Twitter will be in the same place soon after.

      Neither company will survive for more than 5 years. Just look at where MySpace is today.
      wackoae
  • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

    webOS would work for FB only if the intent was to bring out a line of FB tablets. Stay out of hardware-outsource tablet fabrication. Stay out of handsets/phones. Stick to what they know best-social networking.
    fordmexico
  • Maybe Google could buy it

    After all, they are building up their "patent war chest" to help "defend" against their infringing "intellectual property" on Android.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

      @facebook@...
      If Google is going to buy it, it better be cheap. Plus it better have a lot tax credits along with it so as to bring the price to almost 0. I wouldn't expect Google to offer to overpay just to catch up to a competitor (eg. $44 billion offer for Yahoo).
      anono
    • RE: Could Facebook really make HP's webOS work?

      @facebook@... <br>Really? Was it Google that paid $4.5 billion for Nortel patents or $7.4 billion for Sun because they are building up their "patent war chest" to help "defend" against infringing "intellectual property"<br><br>Sure they bought Motorola, but with the tax credits they got + cash, it was almost free.
      anono