There’s a rumor going around today that Amazon are in talks to buy the defunct remains of Palm from HP. I think it’s true. VentureBeat are reporting that HP are trying to find a buyer for the corpse that was Palm. After putting over a billion into buying Palm and nearly another billion into developing new hardware, HP are problaby looking for someone to take the embarrassment off their hands.
A well-placed source tells us that HP is currently looking to rid itself of Palm as soon as possible, and that Amazon is the closest to finalizing the deal, among a handful of contenders.
Indeed, no other company seems as fitting a home for Palm and its webOS software. It’s worth noting that former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, who now holds a vague “product innovation” role at HP’s Personal Services Group, joined Amazon’s board late last year.
Now, I usually hate covering gossip like this and I know that I will almost always disbelieve the rumors. But this is one that I expect to happen.
Buying webOS will give Amazon what they always wanted: control. Once Amazon own it, webOS will be dropped by all the other major ebook companies and any startups will probably think twice about competing on Amazon’s turf. Amazon can restrict who gets to develop what on their platform. And unlike Android, they won’t have to worry much about unapproved apps.
In case it’s not clear, Amazon want to Apple and own something like iOS. (That is certainly what they tried to do with the Kindle Store.) Amazon want webOS because its something that they won’t have to share with anyone. Don’t believe me? Look at what they’ve done with Mobipocket.
Amazon bought Mobipocket, an ecosystem with library ebooks, competing retailers, and an existing customer base, and then proceeded to kill it off and create the Kindle. And yes, Mobipocket is all but dead.
Amazon tightened control over how readers could use ebooks, eliminated the possibility of competing retailers, and pushed away all the existing customers. They have also periodically changed the DRM and occasionally hidden details to make hacking the format harder.
There’s no guarantee that this deal will come to pass, but I certainly believe that this rumor is true. WebOS would be a dream come true for Amazon.