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HP’s WebOS is up in the air and we now have a new player that apparently wants to catch it: Amazon, the upstart etailer that come to dominate the e-reader market and now wants to do the same in tablets with its Kindle Fire.
A report in VentureBeat quotes sources who say that Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is in “advanced negotiations” to buy WebOS. Furthermore, those sources note that HP (NYSE: HPQ) wants to relieve itself of the WebOS burden ASAP — despite HP saying that it would stick by WebOS, even after announcing to dump its hardware business.
For Amazon, the idea would be to use WebOS as a basis for its new line of tablets — rather than the forked version of Android that Amazon is currently using to power its Kindle Fire tablet unveiled earlier this week after what seemed like decades of speculation.
Perhaps more significantly, Amazon could also use the platform to power other products in the future, too — such as smartphones and PCs, both areas where Amazon could naturally move, given its strong position in mobile retail already, plus its huge push to cloud computing with Amazon Web Services.
For those who might think that an Amazon/HP tie-up sounds out of the blue, it’s not: Jon Rubinstein, the former Palm head, joined the board of Amazon in December last year as a director. (We covered that here.)
That could mean that Rubinstein will finally be able to realize the original vision he had for WebOS, which floundered under HP’s ownership.
The other alternative is a strategic relationship between Amazon and HP to use the OS, but Amazon has demonstrated that it doesn’t like to do things by halves (hence commandeering Android to the point of making it unrecognizable as Android), and HP sounds like it might have itchy feet and needs to streamline fast before even more people lose confidence in the company.
HP’s new CEO Meg Whitman, when she took the helm earlier this month, noted that HP would continue to “explore options for optimising WebOS software.”
On the PSG group, of which WebOS is a part, Whitman noted that she wanted closure as soon as possible.
“It’s not like fine wine: it’s not going to get better with age,” she said.
Amazon is by no means the first company mentioned to be interested in WebOS. Others names that have been floated include Facebook, Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Samsung, HP and RIM.