HP tried and failed to sell webOS for $1.2 billion

HP purchased Palm and its webOS operating system back in April 2010 for $1.2 billion. However, the PC company reportedly tried to unload those assets during the second half of 2011 for the exact same price. Venture Beat, reporting via unnamed sources, claims that HP even tried to get Facebook to purchase those assets for $1.2 billion but that its offer was "practically laughed out of the room" by Facebook.

The idea that HP would try to sell off Palm and webOS for the same price it paid for those items over a year ago does seem rather strange, especially since the value of those assets has surely gone way down since the failure of the webOS-based HP TouchPad earlier this summer. In December, HP announced that it would release webOS as an open source software project. The company also plans to go back and release new webOS-based hardware, including tablets.

In any case, it does seem like HP is trying to get back on the right track instead of doing silly things such as making dumb sales offers or announcing a spin-off of its huge PC business, which it later retracted. Let's hope 2012 has better things in store for the company.

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HP failed because they quitted too soon. They are quitters. You don't jump into a competitive market and gain success overnight - it takes time and patience. Even MS is struggling. HP also made a mistake by releasing an under powered device with only 512MB of RAM. Had the operating of the device been smoother it would have gotten better reviews. It's not too late. HP can still come back with a brand new webOS tablet and impress us all and they will eventually gain that market share. Just watch those specs HP..... Make your device smooth.

TouchPad has 1Gb of RAM and a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU (1.5ghz std underclocked to 1.2ghz, probably to improve yields), with the unreleased white 64gb 4G model and the 7" TouchPad Go reverting it to the full 1.5ghz. The Pre3 was 512mb (the iPhone 4S has 512mb, some Windows Phones only have 256mb) with a single core 1.4ghz Snapdragon. It's really not that bad.

The software did have problems. I think price was the big problem - it's a plastic device, it looks ok until you see the hideous speakers on the bottom, it can't be the same price as an equivalent iPad!

MS has money to burn and HP does not. It would have been a faling uphill battle if you ask me. WebOS is a complete failure. The apps are mostly terrible and the operating system is laggy and buggy. You can't download form Blackboard on a webOs device. A problem since it launched back in 2009. Ther eare so many things that it either fails at doing or is just buggy at doing it.

Edited by Deihmos, Dec 29 2011, 10:41pm :

Deihmos said,
...a complete failure. The apps are mostly terrible and the operating system is laggy and buggy.

Weird, because I spent an hour yesterday playing a well reviewed first person shooter called NOVA 2 (which, incidently, is £5 on iOS, and 99p on webOS right now), which worked pretty much flawlessly. Identical story for Shrek Cart Racing HD, including the price discrepancy.
The app store has actually accelerated in recent months owing to the sudden ownership surge, and many excellent games are appearing. I have no idea what Blackboard is, which tells me its probably less important to most consumers than stuff like hotmail, facebook, BBC iPlayer, youtube etc, which all work fine [mostly, it's an old webkit so things do go awry occasionally].

As for your claim on OS bugs... See my reply to your other comment above. I guess you used the initial 3.0 version (if that) and haven't seen it since 3.0.4 in October, because it's pretty good (especially if you clock the CPU back to its native 1.5ghz).

All they needed to do is updated it a bit and everything would have been fine. I guess they figured they figured it would save them big to use Android.

Such a bad move to buy Palm in the first place. Even I knew this would have ended badly. WebOS just does not have what it takes to compete. It is just too slow and it lacks in too many areas. I read a lot of the Palm patents are old and outdated.

They're old because Palm is old, and basically invented the smartphone - one of their patents is something along the lines of "a mobile telecommunications and general purpose computing device", aka, a smartphone. Many were saying during the long silence that the only value to other companies was Palms bulletproof patent package.

I'd personally strongly disagree with your remarks on webOS too. I'm typing this on a TouchPad now. It is slow to cold boot, but once running it's as fast and fluid as anything else and has improved significantly with each update - the next update, probably arriving in a few days (was known to be in internal RC in early Dec), will be as fast at the stock 1.2ghz as the current release version is overclocked to 1.8ghz with all the speed-improving patches from the homebrew community installed (ie, a ~40% speed increase based on leaked benchmarks from the RC).

That said, the initial shipping version was obviously unfinished and had some big problems. Personally I had trouble using mine until October when they shipped 3.0.4, which made the keyboard more responsive so you could type at a decent speed. If the initial 3.0 release had been more like 3.0.4 (the current), and the damn thing hadn't been priced in parity to the iPad, I think it would've had a far better reception.

If it includes patents then its up for grabs but if not then I only see Google possibly being interested. WebOS does not make sense for Microsoft since Microsoft has its own programming language and technology.

Im sure Microsoft or google will end up buying it for half of what HP is asking, but asking 1.2b for a HP product that even HP didnt want makes me believe that they will be lucky if they even get 100m for it

Xerino said,
Im sure Microsoft or google will end up buying it for half of what HP is asking, but asking 1.2b for a HP product that even HP didnt want makes me believe that they will be lucky if they even get 100m for it

It depends. We have to see exactly what HP puts out for the Open Source. Even then, is HP selling the patents it acquired too?

BillyJack said,
They did not believe in their own product and they expect someone else to buy it?

Or overestimated the value of the acquisition and wanted to dump it on some other unsuspecting company.