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Report: HP may sell WebOS

HP is weighing up a sale of the WebOS platform it got when it bought Palm last year, according to a report.The computer giant paid $1.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

HP is weighing up a sale of the WebOS platform it got when it bought Palm last year, according to a report.

The computer giant paid $1.2bn (£789m) for Palm in 2010, largely so it could get its hands on WebOS, a rival to Google's Android and Apple's iOS. However, the strategy did not pay off, and in August this year HP said it was discontinuing its WebOS hardware products such as the Pre smartphone and Touchpad tablet.

HP's jumbled approach to WebOS was a major factor in the defenestration of chief executive Leo Apotheker in September. Now, according to a Reuters report based on multiple sources, new chief executive Meg Whitman is trying to recoup some of the Palm investment by selling off WebOS.

According to the report on Tuesday, HP is being advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The sale would likely entail hundreds of millions of dollars, the sources said, although nowhere near the original figure of $1.2bn.

No companies were named as having expressed a definite interest in buying WebOS, but Amazon, RIM, IBM, Oracle and Intel were "likely to be interested in the asset", the report stated.

As late as this year, HP had intentions of putting WebOS into a range of products that went beyond the smartphone-and-tablet battlefield where iOS and Android are so dominant. Indeed, one plan at the time of the Palm buy itself was to stick WebOS into touchscreen printers.

In March this year, Apotheker promised that all HP PCs shipping from 2012 would have WebOS installed alongside Windows. By June, he was also talking about licensing the operating system to other companies, although that never happened either.

Even now, it is by no means a sure thing that HP will sell off WebOS. Within the last two weeks, Whitman was quoted by Bloomberg as saying the TouchPad may yet see a WebOS-based successor.

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