LG Acquires webOS from HP, Will Use It in Smart TVs

Palm’s webOS has made another return from the graveyard. After being left at the mercy of the community for over a year by Hewlett-Packard, which had acquired Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion, webOS has found a new home. LG has acquired webOS from HP for an undisclosed sum.

The Korean electronics giant isn’t planning on using the mobile OS in smartphones. Instead, it will be adapting it for use in its popular smart TV range. LG was reported to be eyeing webOS for quite a while, after deciding against using Google TV over fears of Google imposed restrictions on the design and interface. LG’s purchase also includes all patents and employees of the webOS Global Business Unit.

LG-Smart-TV

Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics Inc, remarked, “It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices”. It will be interesting to see how LG goes about porting an operating system designed for touch to the remote control operated big screen.

LG might not be the first name that pops into anyone’s mind when talking about smartphones, but they have a strong presence in the television market. While purchasing webOS outright is surprising, it’s not surprising that LG is looking to replace NetCast, its current smart TV platform. NetCast has served LG well, but it is showing signs of age, and with big names like Google and Apple preparing to double down on the smart TV market, LG needs to up its game. HP will also be happy to be able to get something in exchange of webOS. Palm’s webOS was once heralded as the brightest competitor to the iPhone’s operating system, but corporate inefficiency and idiocy never allowed it to realize its full potential. Even surviving as a smart TV platform is a sad fate for a genuinely innovative and intuitive operating system, but in LG’s hands, webOS will probably reach millions of more households than it ever did under its previous two owners.

Ubuntu TV- TV for Human Beings, Revealed at CES 2012

Canonical has recently revealed a concept for a fully featured TV application, based on Ubuntu. It is known as the Ubuntu TV, and has been revealed at CES 2012. Ubuntu TV competes directly with Google TV in its attempt to redefine the entertainment experience on television. It has some amazing features and the first commercial appearance of the TV is expected by the end of this year.

From the CEO’s Desk

In an interview with PC Pro, Canonical CEO Jane Silber says,

It is a simple viewing experience for online video, both your own and routed over the internet. OEMs and ODMs are increasingly wary of the walled garden [approach] that certainly Apple takes – and increasingly Google, although it is much more open than Apple. We see a lot of demand for a neutral player.

Jane Silber knows Canonical is up against Google and Apple with this technology, and therefore, it are offering the software free of charge to gain a competitive edge. The source code for Ubuntu TV will be released later today, allowing developers to customize and modify it, as they want. Jane Silber takes pride in saying “Ubuntu TV will provide viewers with a neutral player”.

Overview

Ubuntu TV will let you stream media content like music, videos an photos from your PC to your TV. You can search, watch, record and play streaming videos. It will also allow media sharing with portable devices using Ubuntu One. You can also share your screen with tablets and smartphones. Like the Software Center in Ubuntu, Ubuntu TV will have an online store where developers can submit their apps for Ubuntu TV. Besides, the application will be controlled with a smartphone or with a TV remote.

Ubuntu TV for Content Providers and Hardware manufacturer

Canonical is calling the technology a Smart TV. Canonical will need to partner with OEMs to enter into production with this new product. This can be an excellent deal for TV manufacturers, now that global content distribution rules, OS development and software engineering  will be handled by Canonical completely.

Verdict

This is Canonical’s first attempt to move beyond the PC. However, this technology of  smart TV has only seen sluggish growth so far, and there is definitely something wrong with the feeble attempts that everyone is making at enriching our TV viewing experience. In spite of a strong marketing force, Google TV has not reached many houses yet.

Initial markets of interest for this product will be the US and China. Canonical plans to extend it to the UK later. However, these markets will prove to be profitable only when Canonical makes local-content deals.