There is a rumor out of Digitimes that Samsung may have an interest in HP’s computer division. This has been bolstered by news that they have hired HP’s former Personal Systems Group VP of Marketing Raymond Wah and put him in charge of Samsung’s PC sales. There seems to be some debate about the rational behind a move such as this by Samsung. It would seem to be a strange play for Samsung, as HP’s PC division has a low gross margin and would likely affect the high gross margin of Samsung’s DRAM and display panel divisions. This looks to have sparked the speculation that the real prize for Samsung would be WebOS.
Their source is stating that Samsung has plans to directly compete against Apple and Google.
I question some of these assertions as I feel a few problems are present in their logic.
Android has helped Samsung move into the number two spot in global smartphone vendors, behind Apple. As of the second quarter of 2011 they hold 17.2% of the global smartphone market share and their growth percentage from this time last year is actually triple that of Apple’s. This IS a company on the move, so it’s easy to speculate that they may strike out on their own. Some sites are backing this up with the intellectually dishonest, yet hot-topic idea that Samsung and others may jump ship based on fears of the recent Googorola merger.
While Samsung may have a great deal of momentum behind them, I am almost certain that their executives know this has a great deal to do with the Android OS they ship in their products. To suddenly change course and try to make a push for BADA worldwide, with WebOS infused into it, would surely have a massive effect on said momentum. The remaining idea for this rumor would be to continue pushing BADA in Asian markets, while shifting its focus to WebOS in other markets. This does not change the argument posed above and would still cause a break in their momentum.
The only thing that this idea has going for it, is that consumers do not know what Android is. They simply know that they are purchasing a touch-screen smartphone and nothing more. This goes back to some of the comments posted in Apple, Google and an 800 pound gorilla, stating that Google needs to step-in to do more marketing and advertising for Android as a brand. They should not leave this to the manufactures that have no real incentive presently to acknowledge their devices Android underpinnings.
I suspect that the real intention here is the same as the Googorola merger. Samsung is sniffing around WebOS to pad their existing patent portfolio. This would help with any patent disputes with companies like Apple moving forward.
Personally I would like to see Google themselves make a move on HP and WebOS. There are two reasons I can think of off the top of my head, why I would like to see this.
First, Google could use a hardware division like HP to help flush out their budding ChromeOS platform. Remember that HP almost single-handedly pushed the market into relatively inexpensive Windows-based systems after their buyout of Compaq, further solidifying Microsoft’s dominant position in the desktop and laptop ecosystems.
Secondly, it seems like it would be a natural fit for Android. If you don’t remember, last year Google managed to court former WebOS design guru, Matias Duarte, away from Palm. He now holds the title of, Director of User Experience for Android. It would be great to see what he could come up with if he could start adding portions of WebOS into Android.