Report: Oracle May Be Interested In Buying WebOS From HP

Monday evening report from Reuters

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is advising HP on the potential WebOS sale, which could amount to "hundreds of millions of dollars", according to the Reuters report. HP obtained WebOS in its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in April 2010.

Reuters, citing sources familiar with the situation, said several other technology companies have shown interest in WebOS, ostensibly for the patent trove it would bring a buyer.

HP's WebOS patent portfolio is regarded as deep because of Palm's early entry to the mobile space in the mid-1990s. According to Byte's Gina Smith, who dug into the WebOS patent portfolio in early September, Palm's patent claims extend to mobile multitasking, distributed networking, cloud computing, mobile user interface controls, telephony, visual search, 4G, and touch technology.

An HP spokesperson contacted by CRN declined to comment on the Reuters report. "We have said all along we are exploring ways to optimize the webOS software. Nothing has changed," the spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Sponsored post

Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Fresno, Calif.-based solution provider, finds Oracle's reported interest ironic considering the frosty recent relations between the two companies. "I’ve personally thought that HP should have jettisoned WebOS from the time Palm was purchased," he said.

However, Duffy is of the opinion that HP's relationship with Oracle could improve under the leadership of CEO Meg Whitman.

HP closed its WebOS hardware operations last month but has been exploring its options for WebOS software assets ever since startling investors and channel partners in its Aug. 18 third quarter earnings call. During that event, then-CEO Leo Apotheker announced the company's decision to scuttle the TouchPad and look into a sale or spin-off of its Personal Systems Group.

Some HP executives have maintained an optimistic tone even as HP was shopping WebOS. In mid-September, HP Chairman Ray Lane and CTO Shane Robison, who left the company Nov. 1, touted WebOS' potential as an enterprise application development platform.

Last week, Stephen DiFranco, senior vice president and general manager of PSG, held out the possibility of WebOS playing some sort of unspecified role in HP's mobility business.

HP in September moved WebOS software engineering, developer relations and software product marketing teams into its Office of Strategy and Technology division (OS&T), under Robison.

In October, Richard Kerris, former vice president of WebOS worldwide developer relations, left HP and joined Nokia as head of global developer relations.