LG Buys WebOS for Smart TV Platform

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The LG Smart TV platform might be getting a facelift from an old mobile OS.

The LG Smart TV platform might be getting a much-needed facelift. LG announced today that it acquired the WebOS mobile operating system from HP, and plans to use it for its Smart TV platform.

Developed in 2009 for Palm smartphones (back before the iOS/Android duopoly was cemented), the WebOS platform was widely praised for its good looks and friendly interface. HP acquired Palm in 2010 and planned to use WebOS as the platform for all of its mobile devices. But few of those devices ever materialized, and since 2011, WebOS has languished.

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The LG Smart TV platform is one of the better TV interfaces on the market, but that’s faint praise. By turning to a tried-and-true (if under-utilized) operating system, LG could end up with a smart TV platform that users can actually get excited about.

As part of the agreement, LG will get the WebOS “source code, associated documentation, engineering talent, and related websites,” as well as “licenses under HP’s intellectual property for use with its WebOS products, including patents,” according to the joint press release. LG will also “assume stewardship of the open-source projects of Open WebOS and Enyo.”

“The open and transparent webOS technology offers a compelling user experience that, when combined with our own technology, will pave the way for future innovations using the latest Web technologies,” said Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer of LG.

With LG’s 2013 TV models set to hit stores in a few weeks, we probably won’t see WebOS integrated into the LG Smart TV platform until next year.

A sale price was not disclosed, though neither company expects the deal to have a material effect on finances.