Samsung to buy webOS is the latest rumour to attach itself to the massive news of HP uncoupling itself from both its PC business and mobile strategy.
Why would Samsung be interested in HP’s webOS mobile operating system for tablets and smartphones? Because the South Korean electronics giant is under pressure both from damaging legal cases involving its current Android-based tablets and smartphones, and from its own government.
The South Korean government is urging Samsung to drop Android, and concentrate on developing its own mobile operating system alongside other Korean companies, such as LG.
If Samsung were to buy webOS from HP it would have an immature but ready-for-market tablet and smartphone mobile operating system to continue development on. The short-lived HP TouchPad tablet ran on webOS, but was scrapped by HP just seven weeks into a troubled retail shelf life, It since sold out when its price was reduced to $99 in the US and £89 in the UK.
The rumour of a possible purchase of webOS was further strengthened by news that it has already recruited HP's ex-vice president of PSG marketing Raymond Wah to handle Samsung's PC sales – despite the fact that Samsung has stated that it is not interested in buying HP’s PC division.
Samsung believes it would be “both infeasible and imprudent to even consider such an acquisition… [given] the significant disparity in scale with Samsung’s own PC business and the complete lack of synergies”.
In a statement the company explained: “To put to rest any speculation on this issue, I would like to definitively state that Samsung Electronics will not acquire Hewlett-Packard’s PC Business. Hewlett-Packard is the global leader in the PC business with sales of 40 million units last year, while Samsung is an emerging player in the category and sold about 10 million units in 2010.”
That, however, still leaves webOS on that table.
Samsung shipped 3.5 million mobile phones running its homegrown Bada mobile operating system in early 2011, and announced a new version last week.
This follows deep concern from Android manufacturers on Android developer Google’s recent purchase of Motorola.
Apple has been granted aninjunction banning Samsung from selling its Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace smartphones in in the Netherlands.
Another court in Europe upheld a preliminary injunction requested by Apple, preventing Samsung Electronics from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Germany.
A Dutch judge, however, cleared Samsung of “slavishly copying” the Apple iPad in the design of its popular Galaxy Tab 10.1. And Apple has been accused of manipulating evidence to make the Samsung Galaxy devices appear more like their iPhone and iPad rivals.
The South Korean government is also wary of the recent purchase of Motorola by Android maker Google.