LG hints at webOS smartphones, says UI trumps Android
Despite earlier reports to the contrary, LG Electronics said it may consider leveraging its newly-acquired webOS operating system to power smartphones and other connected devices.
LG purchased webOS from Hewlett-Packard Monday; financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. LG initially stated it would resurrect the webOS platform to power its smart TVs, but speaking to The Verge, President and CTO Skott Ahn hinted additional plans are in the cards.
"In the short term, we'll apply this to the TV only," Ahn said. "In the future, wherever our plans take us, we'll consider an extension to other devices." Asked why LG opted to invest in webOS instead of repurposing Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, Ahn said the manufacturer would use Android "together" with webOS, adding he believes "webOS is better in some of the user experience, like [the] card UI" (which enables webOS device users to move between activities like flipping through a deck of playing cards).
LG offered few specifics on its webOS roadmap, however. Asked by The Verge how webOS will support the creation of "disruptive" smart TV products without any of the content deals that have so far hampered innovation, Ahn said he believes "the environment will change from an app environment to a Web environment." Further asked to identify a core benefit webOS will bring to smart TV development, Ahn remained silent for roughly 10 seconds, until LG's North American VP of Smart TVs Samuel Chang explained "we're at the nascent stage" of smart TV development.
HP obtained webOS when it acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in mid-2010. HP discontinued its webOS device business in mid-2011, citing mediocre sales. Later that year, the company announced plans to make the webOS platform's underlying code available under an open source license, and in October 2012--two months after spinning off its webOS Global Business Unit into a new independent company called Gram--HP released Open webOS 1.0, enabling developers to port the mobile operating system to new devices.
Initial reports indicated LG would acquire the webOS source code, related documentation, engineering staffers and webOS Web properties, but HP COO Bill Veghte told The Verge his company will retain all patents associated with Palm and webOS; LG will license the platform from HP, although neither company would comment on specific details of the license terms. LG also has pledged continued participation in the effort to make webOS open-source.
HP additionally will retain the entire webOS cloud services division, including the App Catalog storefront, updating system and other backend services that interact with the webOS ecosystem. "We see this as an opportunity to broaden our reach in delivering services to customers on a variety of platforms," Veghte said, explaining HP will look to deliver an app store-like experience to large business customers who use cloud-based apps.
- read this Verge article
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