Ronnie05's Blog

Would Amazon gamble on Palm WebOS?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on September 30, 2011

If rumours are to be believed we may yet see a third coming of WebOS powering Amazon devices

Could HP’s loss be Amazon’s big gamble? Yes we are talking Palm’s WebOS. Amazon, the online retailing giant is rumoured to be in serious negotiations to snap up Palm from HP. So while HP is currently looking to rid itself of Palm as soon as possible, Amazon is reported to be the closest to finalizing the deal, among a handful of contenders. It’s worth noting that former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, who now holds a vague “product innovation” role at HP’s Personal Services Group, joined Amazon’s board late last year.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire which is loosely Android based (loosely based because of the heavy customization by Amazon to the point where one can barely tell that it is Android.) could use WebOS could provide the necessary differentiation to Amazon Kindle devices from the slew of Android tablets. There’s still plenty of potential for WebOS to power a successful device. Palm’s mobile software was praised for its slick multi-tasking capabilities, which could allow future Kindle Fire tablets to juggle games, movies and media with more finesse than Android.

Rubinstein revealed quite a bit about having Amazon use of WebOS in its future tablets:
… we’d (Palm) like a partner that would allow us to expand the webOS ecosystem… There’s a variety of different sets of a characteristics to qualify as a good partner. I would say Amazon would certainly make a great partner, because they have a lot of characteristics that would help them expand the webOS ecosystem. As to whether there’s been discussions or not… that’s obviously not something I’m going to comment about.

HP paid $1.2 billion for Palm in 2010, but Amazon will end up spending a fraction of that if the deal goes through. Given just how badly the TouchPad failed, HP will likely offer what’s left of Palm at a major discount, especially since Amazon woudn’t be interested in resuscitating now extinct webOS hardware.

On a personal level, I had expected HP to do a whole lot more with its Palm acquistion. Instead all it produced was the ousting of Lee Appothekar and a radical change of corporate strategy. I do hope Amazon with its best in class revenue generating streams could use the Palm WebOS’s abilities and UI to far greater effect and success.

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