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26 February 2013, 11:34

LG buys (most of) webOS from HP

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HP is selling its webOS-related assets to South Korean electronics manufacturer LG. The two companies have issued a press release. LG is not, though, planning to use webOS in smartphones or tablets; its interest in the operating system is apparently for use in internet-enabled smart TVs.

LG has now purchased the source code, associated documentation, developers and engineers working on webOS and all webOS web sites. LG is not purchasing the patents related to webOS but it will receive licences for all of HP's webOS-related patents, including those patents acquired by HP when it acquired Palm.

HP is retaining all of Palm's cloud computing-related technologies and will continue to support existing Palm customers. LG will take over leadership of the open source projects, Open webOS and the JavaScript application framework Enyo, and add the HP webOS Sunnyvale and San Francisco sites to its R&D locations.

According to LG CTO Skott Ahn, the takeover provides LG with "a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices". The focus for the South Korean company is, however, clearly on smart TVs. Neither HP nor LG has revealed how much the deal is worth, but they do note that the transaction is not expected to impact on either company's financial statements.

WebOS was meant to be the masterstroke which would take Palm back to the top of the PDA and smartphone markets and on its initial release it garnered plenty of praise. But it came too late to save Palm, however, and in spring 2010 the PDA pioneer was bought out by Hewlett Packard. Following the takeover of Palm, Hewlett Packard initially declared: "Palm's innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP's mobility strategy."

But this kind of talk was quickly forgotten – the abrupt change of direction under Leo Apotheker saw the end of webOS and the company's existing webOS smartphones and tablets. Although Meg Whitman, who took over at HP after Apotheker's dismissal, reversed some decisions, there was no reprieve for webOS.

HP recently released version 1.0 of an open source version of webOS and the Enyo JavaScript framework was updated this week. There were no obvious reactions to the news in the Open webOS forums, but, at the time of writing, the last posting there was six days ago.


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