In one of the biggest stories of 2011, HP decided to “retire” WebOS. It seems the lack of sales of WebOS devices was the primary reason for this. I suspect that Googorola is potentially adding to the equation as manufacturers are looking at strengthening their own offer to consumers.
The rumour mill has already starting churning possible new owners for WebOS. Apple and Google are not even added to the conversation as they already dominate in the mobile space. So who are the candidates to buy WebOS?
- Facebook could be a fit. Mark Zuckerberg’s pride & joy could acquire WebOS. They have the cash to do it and most importantly have been looking at potentially adding an operating system to their holdings. Think about it, owning a mobile operating system would ensure that they can control even more of the web with it. The facebook phone which seems to make an appearance once every 3-4 months would then be a reality not be a rumour.
- Microsoft might also want to consider it. They have a war chest to make acquisitions like this one. They are trying to close the gap to Apple and Google in mobile and WebOS could add technology that enhances their current offering. Adding WebOS could ensure that their rumoured tablet might actually happen (if it does not have to run a version of Microsoft’s own operating system). Adding WebOS and potentially buying Nokia’s mobile division outright might ensure that Steve Ballmer shows the entire technology world that he is a canny operator.
- Samsung is the best fit for me. They already own their own operating system (Bada) which has not gotten a lot of press but could do with tablet technology. In my opinion, their “it’s complicated” relationship with Apple will ultimately lead to separation (Apple has invested billions into Toshiba and Sharp which indicates they believe the same thing might happen). WebOS could further enhance their mobile offering and ensure that HP actually gets some money back from their failed acquisition.
The current financial climate is not really suited to making big acquisitions but in my opinion HP cannot really afford to keep WebOS. They have added staff to their expenses and I see no value for them to keep something that they don’t want to continue to develop.
The rumour mill will churn and churn until a press release is issued by HP clarifying their stance on what they plan to do with WebOS..