Palm's ill-fated WebOS has been bought again, this time by Korean electronics giant LG, ostensibly to support the company's development of smart TVs. But don't expect a Palm TV — the once-admired OS is more likely to just fade into the background.
The purchase includes the OS itself and most of its critical components, including patents (although not its meager app catalog). Fans of the OS will be happy to hear that the open source projects started by HP will continue as before, albeit under the "stewardship" of LG. Still have a WebOS handset? HP will continue to provide support.
The financial terms of the deal were not announced, suggesting the purchase price was not particularly high; HP would probably like to avoid highlighting a poor return on their investment in Palm. Regardless, neither party believed the transaction would affect either of their stock prices.
HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion three years ago — a short time in the business world, but an eternity in software and technology. Palm's WebOS, widely hailed at its 2009 launch as an innovative and powerful alternative to both iOS and Android, was slated to power a new generation of HP consumer devices, none of which ever materialized.
LG states that WebOS was purchased to augment their next wave of smart TVs, and certainly the intuitive interface and patents in Palm's swan song could help with that. The world may be eagerly awaiting an Apple TV set, but in the meantime existing companies are fighting tooth and nail for space in the living room, and a novel and user-friendly OS (as LG seems to be planning) could be a coup.
But a few ideas and interface patents are likely all that can be salvaged from WebOS at this point for LG's purposes. Anyone who's hoping for a second (or third) coming of WebOS in the form of a smart TV will likely be disappointed.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.