SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hewlett-Packard is selling its webOS software to South Korean electronics company LG Electronics, securing a new home for a technological orphan.
The deal announced Monday rids HP of the centerpiece of its ill-fated, $1.8 billion purchase of Palm Inc. three years ago.
HP used webOS as its springboard into the smartphone and tablet computer market in 2011, but quickly scrapped the mobile devices running on the software amid disappointing sales. With that retreat, Hewlett-Packard Co. stopped developing webOS for its own products and gave away the underlying technology as open-source software for programmers elsewhere to modify for their own needs.
LG Electronics has grander plans for webOS. Initially, the software will be melded into a new line of Internet-connected televisions from LG Electronics Inc. If those are successful, LG Electronics is considering selling household appliances and other devices that run on webOS in an attempt to create a so-called "smart" home. That's a concept that could appeal to a generation of consumers who wouldn't consider leaving their homes without their smartphones.
In a sign of its commitment to webOS, LG Electronics is also acquiring the team of engineers who had been working on the software for HP. The precise number of HP workers transferring to LG Electronics wasn't disclosed. The affected employees currently work in San Francisco and Palm's former Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters, and will remain based in those cities, according to LG Electronics. It still hasn't been determined if LG Electronics will take control of the employees' current offices or move them to other locations in the same cities.
The opportunity to pick up a pool of talented software programmers and gain control over the core of webOS were the main reasons LG Electronics wanted to do the deal instead of simply relying on the free open-source project, LG Electronics spokesman John Taylor said.