In a report from Reuters, it is said that HP is working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to see if there is a potential buyer out there for the beleaguered Palm unit the company bought for $1.2 billion back in April 2010. The main asset would be the webOS operating system, which would give anyone who purchases it a way to get out of developing their own, or having to turn to open source projects such as Android. The current list of supposed contenders include Amazon – who is entering the tablet field now with the Kindle Fire running on a highly customized version of Google's software – , RIM, IBM, Oracle and Intel.
Late last month HP's new CEO, Meg Whitman, said that no decision had been made on the fate of webOS which has been floating in limbo since the disastrous sales of the TouchPad tablet. However, it is also wise to note that even if a sale is being explored, that doesn't necessarily mean it will happen, a lesson recently learned when bids for streaming service Hulu came in lower than expected and the company decided not to sell.
While some analysts say that HP can't hope for more than a few hundred million for the deal, falling well short of recouping the $1.2 billion the company spent, also in play is Palm's stable of patents. As patent lawsuits continue to heat up between major manufacturers, companies are looking to acquire more and more to shore up their defenses against these suits, and HP stated at the time of the purchase that Palm had "significant IP assets." Even if a sale of the company does go through, there is always a chance that they will never do anything with the software, but instead decide to sit on the patents until they see an opportunity to use them offensively or defensively.
For the time being, this definitely falls in the rumor category, but it doesn't seem far fetched in the least. HP gave running webOS a shot, they decided fairly quickly it wasn't working, so it makes sense they may want to cut their loses and move on. Only time will tell how on the spot this report is, but our gut feeling is, "Yeah, this is in discussions."
How would you feel about webOS changing hands again?
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