WebOS Sale Rumors Return; Oracle Named As Potential Buyer From HP

Another turn in the plot for HP (NYSE: HPQ) and its mobile assets: today a report emerged indicating that HP is looking sell off its mobile operating system WebOS — only a week after HP’s EVP Todd Bradley brushed off the idea of a sale as a “rumor.”
The report, in Reuters, cites four unnamed people as the source of the news.
It also notes that the sale is likely be in the region of hundreds of millions of dollars. That would represent a discount to the $1.2 billion that HP paid when it bought WebOS as part of its acquisition of Palm, Inc. in 2010.
There’s not much more detail in the Reuters (NYSE: TRI) story, except that it does name one potential buyer for the division: Oracle, which would mainly be interested in the WebOS patents that would be part of the sale.
Coincidentally, Mark Hurd, the former CEO of HP, is now president of Oracle, and if the story is true he may have had something to do with the deal.
This is not the first time that we have heard reports of a WebOS sale: the platform appeared a loose end after HP announced in August it would discontinue making the mobile devices that ran on WebOS. However, HP has made a point of publicly stating that it was remaining committed to the platform, or at the very least continuing to evaluate how best to develop it next, after deciding to discontinue its mobile device operations that included the TouchPad tablet (pictured).
But anything is possible at today’s HP: in October, under new CEO Meg Whitman, the company said that it would hold on to its PC division — an asset that former CEO Leo Apotheker had planned to sell as part of the company’s reorganization.
The list of would-be buyers for WebOS has run long and included mobile companies like HTC and Samsung, but also Amazon and Facebook — all companies that could get something useful out of the OS.
Adding Oracle and a patent interest gives the WebOS story yet another facet to contemplate.