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Report: HP looking into selling off webOS division

HP touchpad webOSIt seems as though we have a new HP and webOS rumor every month,  this month’s rumor has a slightly different spin than past rumors. Rueters is reporting that HP is seriously looking into selling the mobile operating system, but for quite a bit less than it originally paid for it.

Usually we hear about a rumor of a company that might want to buy webOS from HP instead of HP trying to unload webOS. This is actually the first time that we have heard that HP might be taking steps to sell webOS. Sources are saying that HP is being advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch on the matter of selling off its 2010 purchase.

Sources close to the subject say that several companies have expressed interest in buying the webOS division. The only company named in this latest report is Oracle, which is said to be interested in the webOS patents. If webOS was to be sold it would only fetch a few hundred million dollars instead of the original $1.2 billion 2010 purchase price of Palm.

For a quick timeline of the history of webOS and HP it all starts in 2010 when HP bought Palm for $1.2 billion. After releasing only one webOS phone and tablet HP decided to discontinue webOS development on August 18. In September HP laid off a large amount of webOS employees.

Sadly if webOS is purchased just for the patents that would mean that we might not see any new webOS devices or laid off employees getting their jobs back. Much like the rumors of Samsung buying webOS nothing in this report is set in stone, so stay tuned for more updates.

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It has been a rocky month for HP’s webOS platform. First HP shocks the mobile world by announcing that it will discontinue making hardware for webOS, and now it is laying off a large amount of webOS department employees. HP plans to fire up to 525 employees from the webOS division, and the layoffs could start as early as this week.

When asked HP confirmed that layoffs were underway, but would not confirm the exact number of employees affected. Without knowing which departments were hardest hit by the layoffs it is hard to tell just how much this will affect the webOS brand as a whole. It does seem like the future of webOS is in jeopardy.  It is still not clear if HP will be able to update webOS in the future if it decides to license out the platform for others to use.

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If you missed out on the last round of super-cheap HP TouchPad tablets, you may be in luck. According to DigiTimes (via PreCentral), HP plans to produce 100,000 to 200,000 more TouchPad units, as a way to clear out the inventories of its component suppliers. The next and final round of TouchPads is allegedly set to arrive sometime in October.
News of the additional TouchPad production follows an announcement by HP that it would revive the discontinued TouchPad for a limited time.
While the TouchPad launched with some promising buzz, the device utterly failed to make a dent in the tablet market, which is still dominated by Apple's iPad and iPad 2 devices. At least, it failed to make a dent until HP slashed the price of the TouchPad from an original $499 all the way down to $99. (Prior to the $99 price, HP had cut the price twice before, first to $449 and then to $399.)
Once the 16GB TouchPad was listed for $99 (or $149 for the 32GB model), people couldn't help but buy one. Sure, the device has some serious downsides. (It's frustratingly slow. Fortunately, you can fix that in just a few easy steps.) But a $99 tablet is just too good of a deal to pass up.
Because of the instant popularity of the extra-cheap TouchPad, many speculated that HP would bring back the device in full-force; that the firesale price was simply a ploy to build a base of users, therefore creating a better launching pad from which to compete with Apple's Goliath tablets.
It doesn't look like that's happening. As PreCentral notes, however, HP may have already sold as many as 800,000 TouchPad units. If the company manages to sell another 200,000 (and, if they only cost $99 or $149, then they easily will), then it's possible that webOS could become the world's second most-used tablet operating system — until Amazon launches its Android-based tablet, at least.
For those of you who already have a TouchPad, check out our guide to what to do with it, here.

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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.

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