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From One Palm To Another: webOS Passes On From HP To LG Electronics


Written by  Sorab Ghaswalla | 01 March 2013
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open webOSHewlett Packard (HP) has finally got rid of one of the least known Operating Systems in the world, the webOS, which it had acquired along with the American smartphone manufacturer Palm in 2010 for US $1.2 billion. The buyer is the South Korean electronics giant LG. The terms of the new acquisition were not disclosed.

Readers will not be faulted for not knowing what the webOS is. The webOS had debuted as Palm’s proprietary mobile OS based on the Linux kernel in 2009 and had almost become extinct. But once HP became its owner, it had decided to give it a fresh lease of life by making the OS open source for further development. Since then, HP has claimed the Open webOS had its own loyal band of followers and developers.

LG will be using the operating software for its “smart” or Internet-connected TVs which were earlier used in now-defunct Palm Smartphones. Under the deal, LG acquires the websites, documentation, source code, engineering talent and licenses under HP’s intellectual property including patents covering fundamental operating system and user interface technology of webOS. HP, though, will be retaining the technology and patents related to the cloud service of webOS

LG Electronics Inc. later issued a statement talking of its new acquisition. As part of the transaction, it said the move will make way for “continued innovation on the webOS platform and on LG’s roadmap of innovative solutions, while allowing HP to focus its resources on strategic business opportunities such as cloud computing.”

Dubbing it a “ground breaking development”, President and Chief Technology Officer of LG Skott Ahn, said, “It demonstrates LG’s commitment to investing in talent and research in Silicon Valley. It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices.”

Ahn explained that LG Electronics’ investment in webOS technology and its acquisition of the innovation team’s R&D capabilities were expected to extend LG’s leadership in bringing Internet services directly to consumer electronics devices. “Integrated with LG, this team will be the heart and soul of the new LG Silicon Valley Lab, focused on bringing innovative technology solutions to market through the most popular platforms for sharing and consuming content and experiences,” he said. With the transaction, LG will add the Sunnyvale and San Francisco sites to its global R&D locations, in addition to its existing U.S. sites in San Jose and Chicago.

Under the agreement, LG will assume stewardship of the open source projects of Open webOS and development platform Enyo, while HP will continue to support Palm users.

[Image Credits: Open webOS]

Sorab Ghaswalla

Sorab Ghaswalla

Sorab Ghaswalla is the Founder of India-based digital world consultancy firm, New Age Content Services LLP, an Internet Entrepreneur & Consultant, a journalist, and owner/Editor of 2 websites. In his free time, he contemplates the larger implications of digital life.

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