With HP in the midst of what seems like an unprecedented scale of corporate suicide, Samsung’s mobile division is fending off an aggressive and multi-continent patent attack from Apple on the grounds that its implementation of Google’s Android OS infringes upon a number of Apple patents. Broadly speaking, Apple bluntly accuses Samsung’s mobile lineup of smartphones and tablets of slavishly copying the look and feel of iOS.
Recently, Samsung hired HP’s former President of PSG marketing to head up its PC business and now there are rumblings that Samsung may also be considering a purchase of WebOS.
With HP effectively out of the mobile devices sphere, the future of WebOS remains up in the air. HP gained control of WebOS when it purchased Palm for $1.2 billion and now it essentially owns a capable and highly regarded OS without anywhere to place it. Consequently, it’s possible HP would license WebOS out to third party manufacturers. Or, as the aforementioned rumor suggests, sell the whole damn thing to Samsung.
A Samsung acquisition of WebOS would be yet another interesting twist in an already mind-numbing and increasingly complex tech environment that encompasses various competing OS’s across varying product lines and thorny patent litigation that seemingly has every tech company trying to sue everyone else into obscurity.
If Samsung does, in fact, acquire WebOS, it would potentially be a significant blow to Android. But with Samsung teeming with Android related profits, a WebOS acquisition at this point seems like a move worthy of consideration but one that only makes sense as a last resort. While WebOS has the sheen and function that likens it to iOS, the WebOS ecosystem is relatively non-existent and wouldn’t do much to help Samsung sell more units than they would otherwise with Android. Besides, the heart of Apple’s lawsuit against HP is that their Android implementation is markedly similar to iOS. In other words, why go after WebOS when Samsung is already enjoying the profits of copying iOS itself.
Currently, Apple’s been dealing some small legal blows to Samsung in the courtroom. For example, Samsung recently agreed not to sell its Galaxy Tab in Australia until September 30th while Dutch Court recently cited Samsung’s line of Galaxy S and Ace smartphones as infringing upon one of Apple’s patents. By themselves, these aren’t huge victories for Apple just yet, but the cumulative effectt could soon start to show some wear and tear on Samsung. In that case, a WebOS acquisition may prove more strategic than fighting Apple in the courtroom and adjusting the functionality of its own phones.