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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

LG Acquires HP’s WebOS to Enhance Smart TV Platform

Apparently, the Oscar buzz from Sunday night died pretty quickly this week because the Internet was all up in arms yesterday after CNET pulled a journalistic boner and ran with a story that should have been kept under wraps until made official. Do you remember when Hewlett Packard purchased Palm and all its assets back in 2010? If no, don't feel bad because it really didn't amount to much in the long run but apparently our friends over at LG kept their eyes peeled on this little thing called WebOS that was part of the transaction.

WebOS was Palm's innovative mobile operating system that formed the platform for the Palm Pre and Pre+ phones as well as HP's ill-fated WebOS tablet.  Great platform: not enough apps. The end?  Perhaps not.

LG's purchase today includes all of the websites, documentation, source code, and remaining intellectual property that was part of that original deal. Considering that LG already has a platform called Smart TV, people (journalists...we never said we were all that smart) began to wonder aloud "Why would LG buy something that HP could never figure out what to do with?"

It may not seem all that obvious, but we're pretty sure that LG's biggest rival, Samsung, watched this week's announcement with a great deal of interest. LG and Samsung are slugging it out right now for the title of the king of Smart TV and interconnected devices (Samsung is winning just in case you're keeping score), so it makes sense that LG would try a bold move to shake things up.

Do you know what LG bought today?

People.  OK, to be financially savvy, "human capital."

A lot of really smart and creative people worked at Palm and they pretty much sat at HP twiddling their thumbs while HP tried to figure out what to do with the technology. LG announced that it would be offering jobs to a lot of the really talented ex-Palm/HP employees and that they would be opening a new lab in Silicon Valley.

Their mission?  Incorporate some of WebOS's best features into the LG Smart TV platform.

 Palm Pre TV? Unlikely, but WebOS features may work their way into LG's Smart TVs and interconnected devices.

While it's unlikely that you'll see LG switch from Android to WebOS for its mobile devices (did we mention that lack of apps?), it's pretty clear from the purchase that pieces of WebOS will end up inside your LG HDTV or even appliances. WebOS was praised for its efficiency and ease of use, so as Samsung and Apple battle it out in the intellectual property wars (iPhone vs. Galaxy), LG may quietly sneak up on both with a slightly different way of doing things based on their own IP portfolio. Will we see a Palm or WebOS branded TV or tablet?  Not likely, but some of the features and operability issues of the platform may translate well to the larger screen.

Is LG going to move its Smart TV features into the cloud while Samsung sticks with an app-based approach? Starting to look that way. Over time we'll see if LG's investment pays off.

View the original article here

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