Samsung May Buy WebOS

Samsung may purchase HP’s WebOS, in a move that would help the phone maker differentiate itself from other Android phone makers in the wake of Google’s Motorola acquisition.

HP recently announced it will spin off its consumer PC division and discontinue its WebOS operations, essentially exiting the smartphone and tablet business despite its software’s good reviews. Samsung, which earlier debunked rumours of acquiring HP’s PC division, may be investigating WebOS instead, according to website Digitimes.

The Korean company staked a claim for itself in the smartphone market with Android devices, like the growing Galaxy line, and has already developed its proprietary Bada platform, designed for newer smartphone users.

However, Google’s recently announced acquisition of phone maker Motorola is anticipated to change dynamics in the Android phone ecosystem as the company shifts from software into the hardware business. If Google becomes a probable rival, phone makers previously reliant on Android may choose to diversify their software options.

Many companies have already been doing this. HTC is set to launch a group of phones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone Mango release, and Samsung today announced it will roll out a line of Wave smartphones powered by Bada.

Acquiring WebOS would be another option for Samsung, as recent fire sales of HP’s discontinued TouchPad device illuminate the software, which has garnered strong reviews. With TouchPad stock nearly sold out, whoever owns the software may have a strong base of users that buys apps and attracts advertisers.

The OS already increased its market share in mobile advertising on the strength of the recent fire sale, one of many signs of a strange, surprising second life for the tablet and its platform. But HP may choose to retain its rights to WebOS and licence the platform, as previously hinted.

However, because Samsung already has Bada, some believe HTC may be a more probable buyer of WebOS. The company uses third-party software on all of its phones, but may choose to increase its options as the Google-Motorola acquisition’s effects play out in the longer term.

WebOS was considered a moribund product when it initially launched with HP’s TouchPad a few weeks ago, but the surprisingly brisk fire sales may have given the OS at least a new lease. A new user base now exists for the software, and HP itself today promised software updates to cater to this new audience.

As the fate of Android after Google’s Motorola acquisition — as well as its increasing legal vulnerabilities in patent lawsuits — begins to loom over Android makers, many companies may eye WebOS in a new, favourable light.

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

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