September 15, 2011
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
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