HP Willing to License webOS to Other Device Makers: CEO

By Beecher Tuttle June 03, 2011

Hewlett-Packard’s newly-inherited webOS platform may soon be made available to select third-party hardware partners, HP CEO Léo Apotheker suggested on Wednesday.

The webOS platform, which was picked up by HP as part of last year’s Palm acquisition, has so far been unique to homegrown devices. Apotheker told attendees at the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference in California that the computer giant would consider licensing the operating system to third-party device manufacturers in an effort to spur its adoption rates.

“It’s not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices,” Apotheker told the audience. “There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet. We’ll make it available to enterprises and to SMBs.”

In response to a hypothetical question about what he would do if HTC wanted to build a webOS-powered handset, Apotheker said he would be “open” to the conversation.

Jon Rubinstein, HP’s webOS chief and former Palm CEO, treaded a bit more lightly than Apotheker, telling an audience at Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference that, “HP is more than willing to partner with one or two special companies,” but the company “is not interested in being in the general licensing business,” according to PC World.

Apotheker’s comments come just a few months after he vowed to make better use of WebOS. He told Bloomberg in March that webOS is not just for phones, printers and tablets anymore. Come next year, HP will make the operating system available on all of its desktop and laptop computers.

HP’s desire to break into the computing OS space is a clear indication of its dissatisfaction with the platform’s success rate in the mobile phone sector. Currently, webOS accounts for just 4 percent of the smartphone market, well behind industry leaders Android, Apple and RIM, according to Nielsen Mobile Insights.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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