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Rumor: HP tried to sell webOS for $1.2b before giving up

updated 03:30 pm EST, Wed December 28, 2011

HP may have shopped around webOS before change

HP had tried to sell webOS before it settled on open-sourcing the platform, according to a rumor on Wednesday. Sources for VentureBeat claimed that HP had supposedly been asking for the same $1.2 billion that it paid for Palm in 2010 to avoid taking a loss. If it had been talking to Amazon and other companies, they may have balked given that HP was charging the same price for a division whose hardware had since been taken off the market.

The company had even allegedly tried selling to Facebook, but had been "practically laughed out of the room," one contact said in an anecdote. The price was likely the tipping point, but the social network also doesn't need to buy an OS with apps on numerous platforms and rumors of a heavily customized Android version for its own self-developed phone.

HP may have lowered its asking price if it saw there were no takers, but this is more speculative than concrete information. The PC builder may have spooked buyers by demanding continued rights to make webOS-based printers irrespective of a new buyer's smartphone or tablet plans.

HP hasn't commented on the rumor.

If accurate, the attempted sell-off could point to multiple causes. HP may have simply overestimated webOS' worth. It may alternately have decided it would keep the business and sell the former Palm group only if it could recover at least the original asking cost.

by MacNN Staff



  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I thought users were saying

    what a wonderful OS it is. How good could it be if it wasn't even worth buying for that paltry amount. Most large companies could easily absorb that amount. I remember one proponent of WebOS saying that consumers would be selling their iPhones just to own a Palm Pre. Some people honestly don't have a clue about the world of tech or consumers.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It probably...

    ... would have been worth more if hp hadn't tried to sell it *after* announcing discontinuing it, and effectively devaluing the product. Not really brainiacs, over there.

  1. facebook_Mark

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Dec 2011


    HP blew it

    If they wanted out, yes, they should have sold a product that was going forward, not after they caused its implosion. I still have and lov emy HP TouchPad and wouldn't mind trying a Pre-3. The fact that its now open source does give it new life. I just hope that support still continues through the community

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    WebOS Past its Prime

    WebOS had some nifty features when it first came out. I like the full swipe gesture. However, it quickly become dated. Palm didn't have the resources to keep up the maintenance, and HP didn't bother. By the time HP was finally ready to ship, WebOS seemed primitive compared to iOS and even Android.

    There was never a good IDE, so developers never took much interest. Android and iOS are just too entrenched now. If Android collapses, I suspect that Windows 7 Phone will be the second contender. Microsoft is willing to bribe its way into applications, and its interface is pretty slick. However, even W7P can't compete in this market.

    HP can declare WebOS as open source, but open source still needs leadership and resources to help the project along. Will HP develop a decent IDE? Will they still sponsor an app marketplace? Will HP be responsible for maintaining and managing WebOS? Doubt it.

  1. facebook_Terrin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Dec 2011



    It really is sad. Apple made a bid for Palm. Rumor is Apple was going to keep WebOS going and continue to sell Palm phones. Instead, HP killed a viable platform.

    WebOS is worth less now because unlike when HP sold it, it 1) has no shipping product, 2) developers don't support it anymore, and 3) the development staff has left.

    HP royally screwed up. It should have continued to allow sells of Palm branded phones while incorporating the company.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I tried to do the same with an old sofa.

    But I ended up giving it away instead.

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