LG Acquiring WebOS Software, Engineers From Hewlett-Packard

LG Electronics Inc. (066570) is acquiring Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ)’s WebOS mobile-software operations and hiring several dozen engineers who worked on the program, part of an effort to improve Internet-capable televisions.

Hewlett-Packard will retain WebOS’s patents and license certain technology to LG, Hewlett-Packard Chief Operating Officer Bill Veghte said in an interview today. LG Electronics, the world’s second-largest maker of TVs, plans to put the technology into Web-connected sets as early as next year, said Skott Ahn, the company’s president and chief technology officer.

Hewlett-Packard bought WebOS in 2010 through the $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm Inc. The computer maker shut down Palm in 2011 after abandoning a plan to compete in the market for tablets and smartphones. Meg Whitman, who took over as Hewlett-Packard’s CEO just after that decision, has been working to salvage some value from the Palm deal.

LG will pay Hewlett-Packard an undisclosed amount for the WebOS code and “many, many dozens” of engineers in Silicon Valley, and acquire an open-source software version of the operating system called Open webOS, Veghte said.

LG, which ships smart TVs using its own software and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Google TV, will incorporate WebOS into future products, though not those arriving this year, said Ahn. The company may also use use WebOS in home appliances, he said.

“We’d like to improve our platform using WebOS,” he said. The company is planning to increase television sales 15 percent this year by offering sets with new display technology and more advanced functions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Ricadela in San Francisco at aricadela@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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