HP finally parts with webOS in LG Electronics deal
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Hewlett-Packard is selling its webOS software to South Korean electronics company LG Electronics, securing a new home for a technological orphan. The deal announced Monday rids HP of the centrepiece of its ill-fated, $1.8 billion purchase of Palm Inc three years ago.
HP used webOS as its springboard into the smartphone and tablet computer market in 2011, but quickly scrapped the mobile devices running on the software amid disappointing sales. With that retreat, Hewlett-Packard Co stopped developing webOS for its own products and gave away the underlying technology as open-source software for programmers elsewhere to modify for their own needs.
LG Electronics has grander plans for webOS. Initially, the software will be melded into a new line of Internet-connected televisions from LG Electronics Inc. If those are successful, LG Electronics is considering selling household appliances and other devices that run on webOS in an attempt to create a so-called “smart” home. That’s a concept that could appeal to a generation of consumers who wouldn’t consider leaving their homes without their smartphones.
In a sign of its commitment to webOS, LG Electronics is also acquiring the team of engineers who had been working on the software for HP. Those employees will be able to keep working in their current California offices in San Francisco and Palm’s former headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, which are both being turned over to LG Electronics. The precise number of HP workers moving to LG Electronics wasn’t disclosed.
The opportunity to pick up a pool of talented software programmers and gain control over the core of webOS were the main reasons LG Electronics wanted to do the deal instead of simply relying on the free open-source project, LG Electronics spokesman John Taylor said.
Financial terms of the webOS sale weren’t disclosed. It’s unlikely that LG Electronics had to pay much, given that HP had already absorbed $1.6 billion in charges to account for the diminished value of Palm and other costs caused by its decision to stop making webOS devices.