Hewlett-Packard is giving some serious thought to the possibility of selling its Palm-developed webOS operating system, sources abreast of developments have said.
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch has reportedly recommended HP cut its losses and recoup as much of the $1.2 billion it invested to acquire smartphone maker Palm in summer 2010. Despite promising a strong marketing push to bring the platform to the masses, with two smartphones and a tablet released, the printer giant decided in August to discontinue its production of further webOS hardware, citing slow uptake as the reason.
Since then, the fate of the critically acclaimed OS seemed all but sealed. However, news that it might yet make a comeback with another industry player will give a glimmer of hope to webOS diehards.
According to industry sources, retail giant Amazon, whose hot-selling Kindle eReader range has just made its debut on Android, is among the companies interested for a potential buyout. Other candidates include BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion, IBM, Oracle Corp and Intel Corp.
Although it is clear now HP mainly acquired Palm for its vast patents portfolio, apparently it’s still not giving up on its attempts to leverage webOS for its non-mobile devices.
HP's new chief executive Meg Whitman, who replaced Leo Apotheker, said: "The question now before us is what do we do with webOS software and do we come back to market with webOS devices.
"It obviously will not be the same device but it will be version 2.0."
Whatever version 2.0 means, HP will need to act fast. If it has any intention of selling webOS, the more time it wastes, the more its value will depreciate. Amazon may not be the ideal suitor as we can’t see it making the leap to the smartphone business, but we’d at least like the platform to be spared an undeserved death.