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Samsung 'mulls bid for' HP's orphaned webOS

Smart smackback at Apple, Googorola

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Samsung may be mulling over the purchase of webOS – recently orphaned by HP – in a move to protect itself from an increasingly unfriendly Apple and the threat of Google and its new toy, Motorola Mobility.

Or so say "sources from notebook players", speaking with the Taiwanese rumor-and-news website, DigiTimes.

Notice the word "rumor". Both Samsung and HP have had the good business sense not to comment on this report, and HP has said that it still plans to use webOS for "a variety of connected devices" such as printers.

That said, Samsung acquiring – or, at minimum, licensing – webOS makes sense.

  • Apple is slapping Samsung around in international courts, claiming that the South Korean giant has "slavishly" copied Cupertinian designs for the iPhone and iPad, a move that has reinforced its copycat reputation. Samsung would benefit – not in court, but in the public eye – if it could glom onto something that would make it unique among the hordes of Android-running phones and tablets.
  • Although Google's Larry Page has said that his company's acquisition of Motorola Mobility was merely a patent grab and an aid to "protecting and supporting the Android ecosystem," taking a CEO's assurances at face value is tantamount to corporate malfesence. Samsung's having webOS in its back pocket to protect its stockholders against Google "second-tiering" all other Android users could be a smart move.
  • Have you ever tried webOS? If not, give it a turn – if you can find a device running it, that is. It's a slick mobile operating system, arguably with a cleaner, more intuitive UI than Android. What's more, its developer tools are highly approachable. Given a supportive home, webOS might well be able to carve out a niche for itself in the mobile marketplace.
  • Samsung could easily afford to buy webOS. According to Moody's Investors Service, the company had $18bn in the bank as of November of last year. Purchasing webOS would require assembling only a small committee of dead presidents from that bulging bankroll.

In addition, negotiating with HP might be fun for the Samsung suits. As pointed out in a highly amusing Wall Street Journal article on Sunday, HP appears to barreling down an almost surreal road to self-destruction. As the WSJ put it, "Jack Kevorkian couldn't have devised a better plan for euthanizing a company."

C'mon, Samsung. Save poor li'l webOS from the Hindenburgian flameout that HP is threatening to become. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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