Samsung CEO scotches rumors of webOS purchase

Chief executive of South Korean handset maker says company would 'never' consider buying OS

Scratch one company from the list of potential webOS buyers.

Samsung Electronics, which was rumored to be interested in purchasing the mobile operating system software after HP announced two weeks it was shutting down production of webOS-powered devices such as the TouchPad tablet, is simply not interested.

And that's coming from someone who should know. Chief executive Choi Gee Sung made the comment to reporters at a trade show in Berlin after he was asked about Samsung's potential interest in the mobile software technology HP purchased from Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010.

From Bloomberg:

"It's not right that acquiring an operating system is becoming a fashion," Choi said. Samsung, which has its own mobile operating system called Bada, is working to boost its software capability "harder than people outside think."

I hadn't realized that buying a mobile OS has become a fashion, but Choi runs the world's second-largest manufacturer of mobile phones, so he's probably got pretty good intel.

The problem for HP is that once you remove Samsung from the list of potential webOS acquirers, there is no list. Which leaves HP swallowing a $1.2 billion loss, unless it cuts licensing deals with device manufacturers to use webOS in some products.

But who's going to pay to license a mobile OS will little developer support, when there's a far better alternative (Android)?

HP announced Tuesday it would produce another run of TouchPads in response to "stunning" demand after the company slashed the price of the tablet to $99 (losing more than $200 on each unit). Is it possible that HP is considering reviving the TouchPad and webOS?

GIven HP's recent seemingly impulsive decision-making, it's a distinct possibility.

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