updated 11:45 am EST, Tue November 22, 2011
HP webOS deal may be held up on printer promise
A rumor emerging from HP's prospective sale of its webOS group has identified a new buyer as well as the possible reasons for HP's indecision on the subject. The VentureBeat tip claimed that Intel has just started discussing the prospect of a deal. Qualcomm, best known for its Snapdragon chips, was allegedly still in discussions in spite of public denials.
HP hasn't closed any deal because it's determined to get a promise that it can use webOS for printers afterwards, the unnamed source claimed. The PC builder had promised webOS printers almost as soon as it closed the deal to buy Palm but has yet to release any printer with the OS. Keeping it as an obstacle to a deal suggests HP is close to releasing webOS printers and wants to know it won't face OS rights issues shortly afterwards.
So far, HP has only ever put out one printer with a mobile OS, a one-off device with a low-end Android tablet as its main interface.
Any sale would likely be a matter of recouping some of HP's losses. It had to take $3.3 billion in expenses to drop its webOS mobile hardware and, while it will never get that amount after having paid $1.2 billion for Palm in 2010, it may trim several hundred million in costs by reaching a buyer.
Intel hasn't commented on the rumor. It may see webOS as a chance to get a more optimized mobile OS of its own, either by folding the interface into MeeGo or using it as a separate platform. MeeGo has so far only been used on a handful of niche tablets and the Nokia N9, which may be Nokia's last MeeGo device following a pledge to support Windows Phone first.