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HP Sells webOS to LG; Uses Android Itself

HP is retaining rights to webOS solutions and to webOS cloud technologies

HP is selling webOS, the last vestige of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010. The once promising operating system is going to LG, the giant Korean electronics firm, which means to use it in smart TVs.

According to CNET, which broke the story, LG is getting the webOS source code, licenses from HP, patents from Palm, related documentation, engineering talent and related webOS web sites on undisclosed terms.

LG said it was definitely not using the widgetry in a smartphone. It's got Android for that.

LG also said webOS will remain open source and supposedly it won't be forked.

HP is retaining rights to webOS solutions and to webOS cloud technologies, including its apps catalogue and updating service.

HP released a webOS-based TouchPad tablet in 2011 and unceremoniously yanked it off the market a few weeks later because it wasn't selling that well. There weren't many apps and the hardware was no winner. Palm released a couple of Pre phones using the operating system before selling out to HP.

Ultimately HP simply open sourced webOS, leaving the door open a crack to the possibility its interest in the widgetry might be resuscitated, but now it's thrown in its lot with Android and will be releasing a $169 mass market tablet that would seem to create an issue at least for Amazon and its $159 Kindle Fires as well as Google with its $199 Nexus 7. HP's move probably also irritates the heck out of Microsoft. HP is selling a high-end business-oriented ElitePad powered by Windows 8.

The 13oz widget, called the Slate 7 and built on a 1.6GHz dual-core ARM processor, has a seven-inch screen and employs Android 4.1, otherwise known as Jelly Bean. It provides search, YouTube and Gmail, Beats-licensed audio for improved sound, HP's own ePrint wireless printing software, twin cameras and access to apps through Google Play. It's also fitted with 8GB of memory, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and should hit the US in April.

It's unclear if HP can make any money off of such a low-priced product. The Slate 7 is supposed to be the first in a new line of consumer products at HP, which recently unveiled a laptop running Chrome in an effort to see if it can make a dent in the market supporting multiple operating systems.

Apple's 7.9-inch iPad mini starts at $329. Between the mini and the standard iPad Apple controls 44% of the tablet market with Samsung in second place with 15%, according to IDC. Samsung's tablets start at $200.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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