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HP's Palm buy was all about WebOS

Not a mobile phone play

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HP's CEO has been explaining that the company didn't buy Palm for its mobile phones, but for access to WebOS with a view to spreading the platform far and wide.

Mark Hurd, CEO of HP, was speaking at a technology conference hosted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as reported by ZDNet. He explained that spending $1.2bn on Palm - possibly more - just to get into the smartphone business "doesn't in any way make sense". One can interpret this to mean that HP has no mobile aspirations, or that it considers itself already operating in that market.

The truth is most likely a happy combination of the two: HP doesn't see any reason to separate out mobile phones from the "tens of millions of HP small form factor web-connected devices" that Hurd feels will benefit from running WebOS.

Certainly it was Palm's intellectual properties that attracted HP, rather than its good looks or bubbly personality. That IP provides useful protection from competitors' patent portfolios, as well as providing WebOS as an HP-specific platform.

So HP won't launch itself into the mass-market handset business any time soon, but will be making a range of devices sporting WebOS for easy integration into cloud-and-enterprise-based systems. That should include the much-discussed WebOS tablet, but will bring a consistent platform into smaller devices too - in much the same way that applications can move easily between the iPhone and the iPad.

This is good news for WebOS, and for Palm, but probably bad news for the Pixi and any thoughts of WebOS slipping into the feature-phone demographic. ®

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