HP had tried to sell webOS before it settled on open-sourcing the platform, according to a rumor on Wednesday. Sources for VentureBeat claimed that HP had supposedly been asking for the same $1.2 billion that it paid for Palm in 2010 to avoid taking a loss. If it had been talking to Amazon and other companies, they may have balked given that HP was charging the same price for a division whose hardware had since been taken off the market.
The company had even allegedly tried selling to Facebook, but had been "practically laughed out of the room," one contact said in an anecdote. The price was likely the tipping point, but the social network also doesn't need to buy an OS with apps on numerous platforms and rumors of a heavily customized Android version for its own self-developed phone.
HP may have lowered its asking price if it saw there were no takers, but this is more speculative than concrete information. The PC builder may have spooked buyers by demanding continued rights to make webOS-based printers irrespective of a new buyer's smartphone or tablet plans.
HP hasn't commented on the rumor.
If accurate, the attempted sell-off could point to multiple causes. HP may have simply overestimated webOS' worth. It may alternately have decided it would keep the business and sell the former Palm group only if it could recover at least the original asking cost.