Maybe all those people buying up $99 TouchPads since HP announced it was killing off its webOS mobile software business are getting more than they bargained for. DigiTimes reported on Monday that Samsung Electronics, which has denied any interest in buying HP's PC division, is "considering purchasing webOS to compete head on against Apple and Google, according to sources from notebook players."
Neither HP nor Samsung would comment to DigiTimes about a possible acquisition of webOS, which HP purchased from Palm in April 2010. HP announced on Aug. 18 that it would dramatically revise its strategy toward cloud-based services. As a result, the world's largest PC maker said it would try to find a buyer for its PC division and also would kill off production of webOS devices such as the TouchPad tablet, which sold dismally upon its release less than two months ago. It might be a smart move by Samsung for several reasons. First, HP no longer has any real negotiating leverage, so Samsung probably would get webOS at a discount. Second, in light of Google's recent acquisition of Motorola -- which sells Android-based devices and thus competes with Samsung -- buying webOS would provide Samsung with a hedge in case it and other Android manufacturers end up suffering because of the Motorola deal. Third, HP's $99 fire sale in the wake of its announcement that webOS was being killed off did something that previous temporary discounts failed to do: Persuade people to buy TouchPads. In doing so, HP has 1) proven that there is a market for a cheap tablet, and 2) helped seed the webOS apps market with tens of thousands of tablets running on the OS.