Has Samsung set its sights on HP's WebOS?

Samsung has denied wanting HP's PC business, but could the company be gunning for its mobile WebOS software instead?

Samsung may not be interested in buying Hewlett-Packard's PC business, but the company may be eying HP's mobile WebOS division, according to a report from DigiTimes.

Jon Rubinstein introduces the HP TouchPad WebOS-based tablet.
Jon Rubinstein introduces the HP TouchPad WebOS-based tablet. James Martin/CNET

Last week, Samsung denied rumors that it plans to buy HP's PC business. But now some sources are telling tech blogs that Samsung may be considering purchasing WebOS. HP announced plans earlier this month to spin off its PC business. The company also killed its mobile product line, which uses software from its acquisition of Palm called WebOS.

Samsung's potential interest in WebOS might make sense given Google's recent announcement that it plans to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion. Motorola is a Samsung competitor in the mobile handset market. And both Motorola and Samsung currently use Google's Android operating system in many of its smartphones.

Google says it plans to continue to run Motorola as a separate business and continue to keep Android open to as many device makers as possible. Still, some wonder if Motorola might get special treatment that could leave Samsung and other partners, such as HTC and LG Electronics at a disadvantage.

WebOS has always been considered a strong operating system with innovative features. The products unfortunately never took off. But Samsung could use the software to help differentiate itself not only from is fellow Android handset makers, but also Apple and Nokia, which is it tied to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 software.

Samsung may also find WebOS's intellectual property useful in protecting itself against a wave of growing legal challenges in the mobile market. Many experts say that Google wants to buy Motorola not for the products, but for the patents the company holds so it can defend itself from lawsuits aimed by Apple, Microsoft, and others.

Palm, the former owner of WebOS, also had an attractive patent portfolio. Samsung is already the target in lawsuits filed from Apple. So it would make sense if the company, like Apple, is looking to buy some patent protection.

For now, nothing has been announced. And Samsung isn't commenting.

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