Amazon eyes webOS as tablet platform?

Could online retail giant's ambitions extend to own tablet OS?
Darren Allan

October 3, 2011
Amazon Logo

Last week, Amazon kicked off its tablet ambitions with the unveiling of the Kindle Fire.

The Fire, as you’ve no doubt seen, is a 7 inch tablet which is pitched at a very low $199 price, a quality device but with a few cost corners cut such as the lack of any camera.

Amazon, though, might have bigger tablet plans than this. The rumour always was Amazon would produce two sizes of tablet, and the 10.1 inch model could be out at the end of the year, or certainly early 2012 according to the rumour mill.

Currently the Kindle Fire is built on Android, but given Amazon’s longer term tablet plans, the latest rumour is that the online retail giant might be considering buying webOS.

HP recently discontinued its webOS devices and is apparently looking to sell off the platform, which is quite a nifty little OS.

Snagging it would free Amazon of any ties to Google’s schedule of releases with Android. Indeed, the Kindle Fire is barely recognisable as an Android device, with Amazon completely customising the UI to its own liking.

The acquisition of webOS would mean Amazon could totally customise the entire system.

Plus it would mean Amazon could side-step the issue of potential legal fire over Android (and possible royalty payments) in the patent war which is currently being waged with some ferocity.

The argument against that is that it would obviously be considerably more effort, and it would potentially leave the Amazon tablets short on fronts such as apps. There isn’t much of an ecosystem for webOS in terms of applications, whereas Android has a giant marketplace second only to iOS.

However, Rim is pushing ahead with its QNX operating system for its tablet and phones for next year, and is apparently considering making Android apps compatible with QNX to open up the app side beyond BlackBerry App World.

There’s no reason why Amazon couldn’t do the same with webOS, keeping its app options well and truly open.

This is currently a pretty vague rumour, though, so we wouldn’t get too carried away at this stage. Certainly HP will want to find a buyer for webOS, however – and if Amazon isn’t in line, Samsung or HTC might be, particularly given the serious legal wranglings over Android at the moment.


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