IBM, Oracle, Research In Motion, Amazon and Intel among interested parties

HP ready to offload flagging webOS - Oracle poised to swoop say industry sources

Already well engaged in legal wranglings with Google, it appears that Oracle could be about to buy a direct competitor to Android, if reports are to be believed.

Reuters reports that HP are considering offloading the Palm webOS mobile software platform for much less than the $1.2billion that they paid for it back in April of last year, say sources.

Bank of America Merill Lynch has advised that HP consider dumping the platform to recoup some of the money back - after analysts called the move 'an expensive foray into the software market that has not paid off.'

Other companies interested in acquiring the patents should HP cut their losses include Intel Corp, IBM, Research In Motion and Amazon.com Inc.

HP is still ruminating over the decision but the decision already seems made for them. the company killed off their TouchPad tablet only 7 weeks after launch, when it failed to make an indent in the market dominated by Apple and Android devices, and faced a fairly mixed reception critically. The disastrous venture was at least cut short early, and you'd assume HP would be fairly savvy and sell sharply here too

New chief executive, Meg Whitman hasn't ruled out trying again though with a new webOS-based tablet. She said in a recent interview:

"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."

What is far more interesting is the runners and riders anxiously biting at each others' heels to capture the system. The patents on offer could be used as safeguards in vital patent infringement cases, probably be the reason for stirring Oracle's interest. Although, given the halt to development on the system, the bidding war is expected to be contested at a knock-down price, when compared to HP's original acquisition.

The platform itself is strong and could be tailored to any conglomerate's desire, as long as they offer more than the dearth of applications that the TouchPad did. The opportunity to revitalise the once highly anticipated system is surely too good to be true, but perhaps Oracle wouldn't choose to take that path. 

It'll certainly be interesting to see who jumps first for webOS, and admittedly, Oracle could be considered outsiders - but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense for them to take the plunge.

 

Chris Mayer

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