Qualcomm Sidesteps webOS Acquisition Questions

Qualcomm has become the latest company to be questioned around its webOS intentions, with CEO Paul Jacobs suggesting at IQ2011 this morning that the platform is "a little up in the air at the moment" but not denying any acquisition possibilities outright. Asked at the annual innovation showcase whether Qualcomm was interested in buying webOS from HP, which announced plans to axe development of smartphones and tablets like the Pre3 and TouchPad earlier this year, the CEO lamented the platform's fading star. "We do like the idea that webOS would continue" Jacobs admitted, "we put a lot of effort into that relationship."

"We worked very closely with HP on webOS – we're all waiting to see exactly what happens. HP has talked about not making devices with it, but then talked about spinning off the PSG. It's really a little up in the air at the moment. We do like the idea that webOS would continue, we put a lot of effort into that relationship and it's a nice OS. More choice is better for developers. But it's really HP's call at the moment" Paul Jacobs, CEO, Qualcomm

Jacobs was not short of praise for webOS, pointing to the platform's web-centric development and app framework, and saying that it did fall in line, in that sense, with Qualcomm's own vision of the mobile future. webOS apps are native to the device they're loaded to, rather than dwelling in the cloud, but are built using the same standard HTML, CSS and JavaScript as their web-based counterparts. A JavaScript framework around that then gives standardized UI widgets, and access to selected device hardware and services.

The lack of an outright denial by Jacobs is unlikely to see Qualcomm removed from the unofficial list of potential webOS suitors. Still, as a possibility it does seem somewhat unlikely: as one analyst pointed out to SlashGear at IQ2011, Qualcomm's motivation with BREW was the absence of any suitable competing platform for the entry-level smartphone segment.

There's no such shortage of options in the mainstream smartphone segment, though, and only potential overlap and confusion between Qualcomm and its OEMs were it to challenge Android, Windows Phone and others by pushing webOS.