Being the No. 2 PC vendor isn't it's all cracked up to be. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) has experienced declining profits and some disastrous acquisitions over the past few years.
But Hewlett-Packard is trying to escape its past, and selling some patents may be just the thing to cut ties.
A face-Palm move
In 2010, HP picked up Palm, its mobile operating system webOS and its patents for $1.2 billion. The acquisition didn't pan out the way Hewlett-Packard wanted, and the company eventually wrote off the purchase. Now the HP is looking to sell intellectual property relating to Palm and webOS, according to recent reports by Bloomberg.
HP is likely looking to help bolster its current financial position, as it tries to move further into its mobile future. The Bloomberg article mentioned HP has removed conditions on the patents over the past few months and is currently pursuing potential buyers.
Selling the patents isn't all that surprising considering HP has confirmed it wants to move in a completely new direction for mobile. The company said back in July that it wants to put out its own smartphone, though it's not giving any definitive timeline.
In response to a fake HP smartphone image leak over the summer, the company said, "HP will expand to additional mobility categories and form factors where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers. We will bring smartphones to market but are not giving a timetable."
After a long history of running Windows on its hardware, HP has been working with Google this year, bringing Android tablets and Chromebooks to market. The shift to Google's platforms has caused rift between longtime partner Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) -- with HP CEO Meg Whitman saying the two are now "outright competitors." The beginning of the end of the relationship came when Microsoft released the Surface tablet, though at the time HP famously said the Surface wasn't a threat to its own Windows tablet.
With its move away from Microsoft, HP is likely to debut an Android-powered device when it does reveal its own smartphone. The move would surely be a clear sign that the company has finally moved away from its Palm past, but first it needs to get rid of patents surrounding Palm and webOS. LG currently licenses webOS from HP and is expected to release a TV powered by the operating system next year. It's unclear if LG is a potential patent buyer, but it could end up being the right move for both companies -- especially as HP looks to shed its troubled mobile past.
Fool contributor Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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