WebOS fans have cause to both rejoice and wail today, as news comes out that software darling WebOS gets a new lease on life. That lease, however, comes with a price: as Korean megacorp LG inks the deal that grants them all of HP’s WebOS-related assets, including software, source code, engineering talent and websites, the buyer has promised to put WebOS not into their new phones, but rather their new televisions.
LG may not have quite the same cachet in the mobile space as Samsung does, but the company has held their own in this most recent smartphone generation; its powerhouse Optimus G slab was the basis for Google’s latest Nexus device, the Nexus 4, and the company is currently showing off new next-gen smartphones with some pretty powerful internals at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
All of these smartphones run Android, however, and aside from an unsuccessful stint with Windows Phone 7, the company isn’t looking to change that up. Instead, WebOS will go on to power the next generation of LG smart televisions. It’s a bold move, but one that could pay off in the long run. Smart TVs are in desperate, desperate need for a company to put out a product with an acceptable UI. Current products are usable, but they’re often held back by slow CPUs, laggy UIs, poor design decisions, extremely cluttered interfaces, the list goes on.
WebOS runs relatively lean, and certainly wouldn’t have an issue on even the cheaper dual-core chips that will power the next smart TVs. While some of the design talent of WebOS has left, the engineering smarts are still there, and while it’s no guarantee that LG will be able to make the transition from WebOS as a touchscreen-centric piece of software to WebOS operating-at-a-distance, it’s exciting to think that someone might be able to beat the rumored Apple iTV to launch with a competitive product.
As mentioned, the LG-HP deal brings the rest of the WebOS dev team over to LG, who is using the group as the core of their new Silicon Valley office in Sunnydale; LG has also gone on record as promising to support existing Palm users.