Well, well, well. It would seem that HP wasn't kidding around when it coyly said it was open to licensing webOS to third-party manufacturers. Bloomberg interviewed HP CEO Leo Apotheker, and he confirmed that HP is talking to several companies about the possibility of licensing webOS.
"We are talking to a number of companies," Apotheker told Bloomberg in Beijing, without diving into details, "I can share with you that a number of companies have expressed interest. We are continuing our conversations."
This Is My Next contacted former Palm CEO, Jon Rubinstein, who is now HP's top webOS guy, and he confirmed the news - and gave some more details about what, exactly, HP is looking for in a possible licensing partner. The gist? WebOS needs to be the top dog for the hardware maker taking the license.
"If someone wants to really invest, and potentially help develop webOS, we're interested in talking to them," Rubinstein said, "If it [webOS] was the primary one they were going to do and they were going to add real value back into the ecosystem, and 'oh by the way' they were doing some Android or Microsoft stuff, of course we'd consider it - but if we're going to be one of 5 or 6 OSs, it's hard to see - it wouldn't make any sense."
According to several sources, Samsung is one of the companies HP is talking to about licensing webOS. Samsung is apparently looking for a platform it can customise in case Google ever decides to lock down Android. Samsung's Jason Kim denied the last bit about Android - "Samsung will continue to strengthen its relationship with Google to provide ultimate values to customers." - but did not comment about a potential deal between HP and Samsung.
It will be interesting to see where HP wants to take webOS licensing. I think an Android/WP7 approach would be disastrous to HP's own webOS hardware business, but I can see a more Microsoft/Nokia-esque relationship with one preferred hardware partner, who will not only build hardware, but will also contribute software expertise and other development resources, work out pretty great.
Samsung seems like a logical choice, since Samsung has a lot of experience with building phones, and has been remarkably successful with its Android devices. At the same time, however, this is a problem; why would Samsung make the switch to webOS as its preferred platform over Android when the latter is currently doing so well?