HP is open to licensing the operating system that they bought when they acquired Palm last year, or so says the CEO Leo Apotheker. While nothing he says is concrete, he does mention (in response to whether they would be open to partnering with HTC) that they could make webOS available to OEMs, as well as other companies that could “create their own environment.”
So far, webOS has only been available on Palm (and now HP) hardware. Licensing it to manufacturers with a history of creating excellent hardware (I’m looking at you, HTC) could help them get their foot squarely in the door. This would be a very Microsoftian approach, in that they would require a licensing fee. It would be hard to unseat Android, which is freely distributed to OEMs, but it could help HP become the major third-place player in the smartphone world.
Update: Jon Rubinstein just basically shot what his boss said down, stating “Our model is not to be in the licensing business. There is tremendous strength in building the whole ecosystem.”
This all went down at the Uplinq fireside chat (live stream) that is going on today. More on this as we get it!