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HP mulling deal to unload WebOS, report says

Potential deal for mobile platform could fetch hundreds of millions of dollars, sources tell Reuters.

Hewlett-Packard is considering a plan to unload its WebOS business in a deal that could net the company hundreds of millions of dollars, unidentified sources have told Reuters.

While Reuters doesn't identify who the potential buyer might be, it does note that the sales price would be well below the $1.2 billion that HP paid for Palm.

HP representatives did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

The mobile platform's future has been in limbo since then-CEO Leo Apotheker announced during an August earnings call that the company would discontinue operations for WebOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and WebOS phones. His proposal was to transform the company from a consumer electronics product manufacturer to a business-class software and consulting services provider.

And to eliminate the remaining inventory of unsold HP TouchPads, the company dramatically slashed prices on the tablet computer, creating what became a runaway bestseller.

However, the decision on what to do with the unit has been up in the air since the company's board ousted Apotheker and replaced him with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Apotheker announced during the same call that the company was considering spinning off its personal computer business--a strategy that Whitman has already vetoed.

On the heels of that reversal, and the instant popularity of HP's tablet, there has been some speculation the company might also decide to keep its WebOS business, which HP bought as part of Palm in July 2010. However, the platform was never a commercial success. Despite critical praise, the operating system failed to gain traction in the crowded mobile OS market.