Samsung rules out buying webOS

Samsung CEO Gee Sung Choi

Speaking at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Samsung CEO Choi Gee Sung said his company would “never” pursue a deal to acquire webOS from Hewlett-Packard. “It’s not right that acquiring an operating system is becoming a fashion,” Bloomberg quotes Choi as saying. A Samsung spokesperon in Seoul later confirmed Choi’s remarks.

When HP announced it was ceasing webOS development last month—leading to the $99 firesale of its TouchPad tablet—some eyes turned to Samsung as a possible white knight for the technology. However, Samsung is already investing heavily in two mobile operating systems—Android and its own Bada mobile OS—and adding a third operating system to the mix doesn’t seem like a smart move for the company. Although Samsung’s Bada has not made any significant inroads in North American and European markets, Samsung is having success introducing it customers and emerging markets in Asia, and the company just introduced three more Bada-based smartphones.

Many arguments in favor of Samsung acquiring webOS basically surrounds the legal cloud hanging over Android (with Microsoft demanding payments for every Android handset sold, and Oracle on the warpath against Google over Java technology in Android) and Samsung’s high-stakes legal battle with Apple (with Apple accusing Samsung of blatantly copying its iOS devices in a barrage of court cases around the world). If either battle goes badly, some of the speculation went, webOS would give Samsung something to fall back on. Another factor is Google’s recently announced acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which will presumably give Motorola devices a distinct edge in future Android development.

Some industry watchers have also eyed Samsung as a possible buyer of HP’s personal computer business. HP is currently the largest PC maker on the planet but, like IBM before it, has now committed to getting out of the personal computer business to focus on enterprise services.

The future of webOS is entirely unknown at this point: HP has announced only that it doesn’t intend to make any more webOS tablets or smartphones; however, the company had previously committed to integrating webOS into its printing products and even its PCs. HP has indicated it might consider licensing the OS, but no plans to license or sell webOS have been announced.

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