About 18 months after HP pulled the plug on all of its phones and tablets running webOS, it looks like the operating system might have found a new home. HP has spent much of the last year converting webOS into an open source project and ostensibly looking for partners that might license it for use on new devices.
But now it looks like LG plans to buy the whole kit and caboodle from HP.
Does that mean LG will be releasing webOS phones and tablets? Nope. The company plans to use webOS to power Smart TV sets.
WebOS was initially developed by Palm as a smartphone operating system that supports third party apps developed using web-based technologies. It won some enthusiastic fans for a few innovative features such as a multitasking system that relied on “cards” and “stacks,” which let you close apps by swiping them off the screen and group related tasks together.
But those features may not be as useful on a television as on a phone or tablet.
What LG does get out of a webOS acquisition is a versatile and light-weight operating system designed to run on devices with low-power ARM-based chips and capable of running thousands of apps. It should be relatively easy for developers (at LG and at other companies) to write apps that will bring web-based content such as movies and music to an LG television running webOS.
While LG has no plans to release new mobile devices based on webOS, the company will continue to offer support for existing webOS users.
There was a rumor making the rounds a few months ago about LG’s plans to use webOS in future television — but it wasn’t clear at the time whether LG would simply license the software from HP or buy it outright.
Update: The Verge reports that while LG is acquiring webOS source code, website, and the team of developers that works on the software for phones, tablets, and other devices. But HP will hold onto its webOS patents as well as the cloud services including the App Catalog.
That means HP could use its app store platform to move beyond webOS, offering solutions for enterprise customers or distributing apps for other software platforms.
via The Verge