Troubled operating system webOS isn’t defunct yet. According to CNET, LG just acquired software, licenses and the team working on webOS from HP. LG plans to implement it in its smart TVs — not in its phones. In yet another surprising event, Palm’s OS will experience a third (or fourth) life.
While LG states that it will only use webOS for its smart TVs, it’s a good strategic move to obtain an independent mobile operating system. Samsung has become overwhelmingly dominant when it comes to the Android ecosystem. webOS could be a fallback OS.
The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but webOS now has a very small user base, making it less valuable. LG effectively acquired a dying yet beloved operating system.
Back in January 2009, Palm stole the show at CES by showcasing its brand new and surprisingly good-looking mobile operating system called webOS. But the Palm Pre and later models failed to catch the attention of potential buyers, leaving the company in a bad shape.
HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in July 2010. At the time, the company wanted to get into the tablet business, and use Palm’s operating system as a foundation.
But the TouchPad was a failure. HP experienced some leadership troubles on its own. Then-CEO Leo Apotheker announced that it would sell HP’s PC business — including its webOS assets — before reconsidering this move.
Instead of getting rid of webOS, HP just let it slowly die by open-sourcing it. With no official hardware to support it and no company standing behind it, the webOS community had no choice but to fall appart.
WebOS fans, your last hope now resides in LG’s TV land. While the app ecosystem is not as essential on a TV as on a smartphone, webOS remains very resource intensive and unknown to most developers. Most of the webOS team left HP long ago. But letting an operating system die three times is no fun when you can let it die four times.
Update: CNET just pulled its original story. Here’s a cached version while we await LG’s confirmation.