Amazon Rumored as the Latest Possible Suitor for HP’s webOS
Here’s a new twist on an old theme: Rumors are circulating that Amazon might be interested in buying webOS from HP. If that’s true, what could we expect from the Internet content giant? After Amazon made its presence known in the tablet space with its Kindle Fire release, it’s clear the comany has taken an interest in building unique and proprietary mobile devices and operating systems. So could Amazon use webOS to develop a new hybrid OS?
In case you missed it, Amazon released the Kindle Fire, a 7-inch touch screen e-reader device that runs a custom version of Android designed to integrate seamlessly with Amazon’s content ecosystem. At $199, the device is optimally poised to take on the market, out-innovating where regular Android tablets have stagnated.
But since Amazon has essentially gutted anything that made Android look and feel like Android, it could easily be inferred that Amazon’s future plans with Android are likely to continue this way, if not depart from Android altogether. According to a Los Angeles Times article recapping the rumor mill, Amazon may …
… nab an OS of its own and to gain some mobile tech patents as well [but] Amazon officials were unavailable for comment on the rumors …
Picking up webOS could be a very smart move for the book-selling tech titan. First, it would take Amazon away from any restrictions or limitations of the Android operating system. Second, as the Los Angeles Times mentions, it would be easy to scoop up a swath of patents, which, as we’ve found, are incredibly important for doing battle in the mobile arena. But more than that, webOS would give Amazon a much more visually polished and slick operating system that seems ideally suited for ‘flipping’ through pages and pages of content, since webOS’s card style of multi-tasking and application management would lend itself well to the visual of books.
If Amazon’s team has so thoroughly forked Android for its own needs, can you imagine what Amazon could do with something even more visually appealing? Yes, looks aren’t everything, but owning that code base on top of hardware integration could make the next iteration of the Kindle Fire into something more amazing. Amazon could even potentially go after a larger size of the market, launching a 10-inch Kindle Fire with a custom version of webOS.
The only issue I see here is what Amazon would do with its Android Appstore, since it’s clear Amazon has a vested interest in Android development. Perhaps Amazon could give Amazon Android Appstore developers a bridge to webOS, or maybe Amazon could develop something for webOS to run Android apps. More simply, Amazon may be buying webOS for the patent portfolio, which it subsequently could leverage, bringing the best webOS has to offer with the best Android has to develop a fully custom OS, maybe “Amazon OS.” Like iOS before it, it would be a closed system, and thus, potentially would offer a much more fluid user experience (think iPad).
How does the channel come into play with all this? I think the effect could be twofold. First, if Amazon buys webOS and guts it for its own purposes and patents, any app development or mobile device management related to webOS is likely to come to a full stop. Second, regardless whether Amazon does, there’s a new tablet in town that will inevitably need supporting, creating more opportunities for VARs to enter — or ramp up — the mobile device management marketplace.