At the Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference, HP chief Mark Hurd told investors that the company had acquired Palm for its intellectual property, in particular webOS. Hurd says that HP didn’t buy Palm to get into the smartphone business–which is true, although iPAQ sales have not been as large as what it used to be, HP already has a smartphone business. HP is envisioning a whole world of webOS and interconnected devices with the Palm deal.
According to Hurd:
We didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn’t seem to resonate well. We bought it for the IP. The WebOS is one of the two ground-up pieces of software that is built as a web operating environment…We have tens of millions of HP small form factor web-connected devices…Now imagine that being a web-connected environment where now you can get a common look and feel and a common set of services laid against that environment. That is a very value proposition.
HP’s strategy for webOS seems to be very reasonable, if not strategic. After all, smartphones are becoming commodities these days and the real money in Palm is how webOS differentiates the user experience from all the many Android devices out there. Traditionally, manufacturers try to skin a licensed OS to give it value and retain customers, much like HTC with Sense UI, and HP is one-upping that by calling the webOS experience its own.