HP may have admitted defeat in turning webOS' potential into smartphone and tablet success, but analysts and investors still think the OS could fetch hundreds of millions of dollars should HP decide to sell.
Several leading electronics firms have been linked with the much admired OS, including Samsung, RIM, HTC and Amazon, but it looks like HP might not have given up on the platform itself after all.
HP paid $1.2bn for Palm just last year, effectively just to gain control of webOS, although it did inherit a fair bit of hardware smarts too which helped produce the likes of the Pre3 smartphone and the TouchPad tablet.
But a couple of months ago HP stunned the mobile tech industry by saying it was pulling out of the smartphone and tablet game after failing to achieve the kind of success it was hoping for.
That left the question of what to do with webOS, and the tech press was quick to offer its advice: sell, sell, sell. Just about everyone with a couple of quid going spare has been linked with the OS too, to the extent that it'll come as quite a surprise to many to hear that HP hasn't actually decided what to do with the platform as of yet – in fact it hasn't even given up making another go of it itself.
“The question now before us is what do we do with webOS software and do we come back to market with webOS devices,” new HP CEO Meg Whitman said recently. “It obviously will not be the same device but it will be version 2.0.”
We're all for thinking outside the box, but frankly this is just getting confusing now. If HP couldn't get it right the first time, waiting until Apple and Android are even more cemented in their dominance and Microsoft has had another year to mop up what's left doesn't seem like much of a plan to us.
Our advice would be cash in while you can on the patents and other IP webOS still has to offer, then probably watch a third owner run aground trying to make webOS work.