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Samsung May Buy webOS, Recruits Former HP Exec

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When HP decided to kill off webOS, most people were more concerned with who would snatch up the PC business that went tumbling down the trash chute alongside it. A few options were thrown out, but most bets were placed on Samsung, who’s reportedly been looking to outsource some notebook orders. Little did we know, Samsung may be interested in grabbing webOS, too.

DigiTimes’ sources report that Samsung may very well be considering the purchase of webOS to better compete against Apple and other Android phone makers. With Google’s proposed acquisition of Motorola, the game has changed significantly.

IP wars have become a bit of trend lately within the mobile industry, and no one is completely safe. However, Android now has a much better position thanks to Motorola’s massive patent trove. HP made a similar move last year with its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm and its patent portfolio. If Samsung really does end up buying webOS, it may buy itself some desperately needed protection, as well. Which would be quite the boost since the South Korea-based company has been under a full-scale attack from Apple for the past four months. Plus, a webOS acquisition may give Samsung an edge competitively, as well.

Though Google promises to leave Android “open,” Motorola will undoubtedly have the upper hand in terms of Android devices. That said, many Android partners are likely feeling a bit frazzled, and may be looking for their own way to comfortably differentiate. Android’s certainly a success story compared to webOS, but it’s also up for grabs and Motorola will henceforth get first dibs. That’s rather uncomfortable to just about anyone but Motorola.

Apple has iOS. HTC has its massive supply chain. Nokia will have Windows Phone 7 Mango. And Motorola will, of course, have Android. That leaves Samsung, who is a notably strong competitor among these big five device makers, without something special to set it apart.

While webOS hasn’t been a shining star among mobile platforms, that’s not to say that it’s a bad operating system. Quite the opposite actually. webOS partners the beauty and simplicity of iOS with the multi-tasking of Android, but just doesn’t have enough apps to walk the walk. With a little tweaking and some app support, webOS might just be what Samsung needs. Especially if the South Korea-based company is looking to free itself from the litigation-inducing Android.

In other news, HP’s ex-VP of Marketing for the Personal Systems Group has reportedly been recruited by Samsung to take over PC sales, adding weight to rumors that Samsung is interested in HP’s soon-to-be spun off PC business. Samsung has denied, rather vehemently, any intention of picking up HP’s PC business. We agree it wouldn’t be the best fit, since HP’s lower-margin PC business doesn’t really jive with Samsung’s high-margin panel and DRAM businesses.

Here’s Samsung’s statement on the matter:

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. Based on the significant disparity in scale with Samsung’s own PC business and the complete lack of synergies, it would be both infeasible and imprudent to even consider such an acquisition.

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