HTC Considers Buying Mobile Operating System

HTC says it may buy an operating system but will “not do it on impulse,” contemplating its options after Google scooped up Motorola and HP abandoned WebOS.

The Taiwan-based company’s chairwoman Cher Wang said her company has “given it thought and discussed it internally,” but did not indicate whether it would buy WebOS.

“We can use any OS we want. We are able to make things different from our rivals on the second or third layer of a platform,” Wang said, explaining HTC’s position regarding mobile software. “Our strength lies in understanding an OS, but it does not mean that we have to produce an OS.”

Wang’s statement follows speculation that Android makers may turn to a different OS now that Google is set to own Motorola, which may transition the search company from software partner to hardware rival.

In August, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant announced intentions to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion, a move that earned public praises from Android manufacturers like Samsung, LG and HTC.

Google now owns Motorola’s 17,000 patents and recently shared some with HTC, which promptly used them to sue Apple, signaling its goodwill toward Android makers.

But HTC and other manufacturers are still nervous about the Google-Motorola deal. They fear Google may favour Motorola’s Android implementation, giving it an edge in the market.

Some Android makers may hedge their bets, switching to the Windows Phone 7 OS, creating their own system, or purchasing another OS to diversify beyond Android.

For example, rival Samsung is focusing on Bada, while HTC recently debuted two Windows Phones.

HTC may have an eye on HP’s WebOS as well. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer company scuttled the platform, deciding instead to focus on business services. WebOS may go to the highest bidder, though so far no one has stepped forward.

HTC may escape a potential Android squeeze that may result from the Google/Motorola deal if it buys WebOS. A proprietary OS may allow the Taiwanese company to more closely copy Apple’s successful business model of customising software for specific hardware.

Google, too, is likely aiming for this integration with its Motorola purchase. If HTC beats the search giant at its own game with its own OS, it may enhance the company’s standing in the market.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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