Will Amazon buy Palm/webOS from HP?

webOS Kindle app

Less than a year and a half after HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion, it looks like HP may be ready to sell — and Amazon may be first in line to buy what’s left of Palm. VentureBeat reports that HP is looking to sell off its Palm assets and that Amazon is the company most likely to actually click the purchase button.

The report comes just a few days after Amazon introduced its first tablet… running Google Android rather than HP/Palm’s webOS software. But the Kindle Fire uses a highly customized version of Android — in fact if it didn’t run third party Android apps you’d probably never even know it was Android. Meanwhile, Amazon already offers a pretty decent Kindle app for webOS and it probably wouldn’t be hard for the company to port its Amazon MP3 and Video apps to run on webOS as well.

By acquiring its own operating system, Amazon would have far more control over any future Kindle products it produces. And while Amazon has launched its own Android Appstore, any Palm purchase would likely include the HP/Palm App Catalog — so it’s not like an Amazon webOS tablet wouldn’t offer third party apps.

It might also be possible to develop tools that would allow some Android apps to run on webOS using a Java virtual machine. That would be similar to what Research in Motion plans to do with its upcoming software update for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet which runs BlackBerry Tablet OS.

There’s one thing that’s not likely to happen if Amazon does acquire webOS from HP. Amazon probably won’t resurrect the HP TouchPad line of tablets. While the tablet has proved wildly successful in its afterlife due to an 80-percent off fire sale, Amazon’s not interested in producing tablets for tablets sake.

Amazon sells media, and the Kindle Fire is delivery system for digital music, movies, books, and apps purchased from Amazon’s content stores. I suspect any future devices will look a lot more like the Kindle Fire, with its simple, media-oriented user interface than the general purpose HP TouchPad tablet.

  • Anonymous

    Uh-oh… i’m getting internal conflicts. I think Amazon would do good to push webOS further than what it had been getting. But if it makes a super big change to the OS, then it’ll be whole new OS that looks like Kindle Fire but with more function? what would become of Palm though…..

    Or palm could just cut itself away from HP, and become an OS company. There’s a lot of companies looking for an alternative to android, especially with MS and Apple trying to kill the system.

  • Anonymous

    Really unlikely, like you said their focus is selling media. Buying webOS would be overkill when there are plenty of free alternatives they can skin and get the similar results.

    As nice as it would be to get it out of HPs bumbling hands, Amazon just doesn’t fit.

  • Anonymous

    both webOS and android run on the linux kernel. Since amazon has already customized the UI heavily, all they’d be getting is what’s in the middle, the part of webOS that’s on top of the linux kernel, but below the UI layer. Is that worth the purchase of the whole webOS? Android 2 (at least) is already open source anyway. Google doesn’t control anything.

  • Anonymous

    Whatever happens, WebOs as we once knew it under Palm is dead.  Amazon may use it as the internals for its tablets, but it is has been killed in the marketplace by Apple and Google.  Just like Symbian was killed.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see why Amazon would do this.  If they didn’t already have their own Android app store, maybe.  Just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • http://www.gizmolovers.com/ MegaZone

    I don’t see this happening.  Amazon can use, and is using, Android for free.  Why spend big money on buying WebOS?  They’d have to rewrite all of their apps.  And the Amazon App Store works with other Android devices, giving it more appeal for developers.  If they cut themselves off from that community they’d be in the same boat WebOS has been in – weak developer support.  If they bought WebOS they’d have to fund development, if they keep using Android they can piggyback on all the money spent by OHA.