Device operating systems

Could Facebook Buy WebOS?

10:25 AM -- Could Facebook buy HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ)'s WebOS?

That's the suggestion being put forward in a research note from Jefferies & Company Inc. Thursday morning. The analysts write that Facebook could be the "best fit" as "many of the natural potential buyers for WebOS" seem happy with dual-sourcing a mobile operating system from Android and Windows or developing their own:

    Due to Facebook's scale, developer community, and movement toward media (e.g., music) and communications (Messenger), it is possible that an acquisition of an OS asset like this could be a good option. Checks with developers indicate that they would support a potential Facebook OS, and industry sources have noted Facebook's historic interest in a mobile OS or heavily influencing one.

As Jefferies notes, the only major handset vendor that has expressed interest in WebOS is High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), which doesn't seem to be in any hurry to buy. (See HP Brings TouchPad Back From the Dead and OS Watch: Samsung Disses webOS.)

There are a couple of hang-ups in Facebook making a WebOS buy. "An acquirer of WebOS might also need to acquire mobile patents as WebOS' were already sold," the report states.

The other sticking point that I can see is that Facebook isn't in the hardware business at all right now. This likely means it would have to work with HTC, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) and others to get the devices out the door, when many vendors already have a big interest in Android and -- to a lesser extent -- Windows.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

miles4000 12/5/2012 | 4:53:39 PM
re: Could Facebook Buy WebOS?

As a current webOS user I'm not sure Facebook would be a good fit and it would take longer to get any new devices out the door. But at this point it doesnt look good as far as someone making new webOS devices.  The recent Touchpad fire sale has helped on the software side (selling more webOS apps) and we are still seeing new or updated apps in the catalog. HP still needs to show that its serious about continuing to support webOS by releasing an update soon.  This might sound crazy but once HP spins off the PC group couldn't they license webOS and make devices again?

ethertype 12/5/2012 | 4:53:38 PM
re: Could Facebook Buy WebOS?

Repeat after me:  ecosystem.


WebOS is but one component.  The ecosystem requires hardware, distribution (mainly mobile operators), apps, app store(s), and now more clear than ever, patent weapons.


Facebook adds exactly zero of these other components.  Maybe they could credibly get their developers to do apps, and run an app store, but they'd have to build/buy/partner for the rest and then fight for 3rd or 4th place in the ecosystem war.  Huge bets, lots of cash outlay.  And what's the payoff?  You end up pissing off everyone else and they stop doing tighter Facebook integration on their devices & apps.


In short, this is just M&A-sturbation.

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