I've always wondered if Amazon would be at all interested in webOS as they continue to ship their own devices — especially with former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein serving on their board.
I think Amazon has proven that they're quite capable of producing their own hardware, software, and ecosystem, so I'm not exactly sure how webOS would fit into their strategy. But if they do end up acquiring it, I doubt their management / execution strategy could be much worse than HP.
It somewhat makes sense given how aggressively they are entering the hardware game. On the other hand, they have built a pretty significant ecosystem on top of Android, so I'm not sure if the acquisition would make much sense at this point. Given Microsoft's recent licensing "deals" with Samsung and other manufacturers, they might do it as a way to build their patent arsenal. Rest assured that if the Kindle Fire turns out to be a hit, it will put Amazon squarely on the Microsoft litigation team's crosshairs.
It only makes good business sense if Amazon can gain additional market share while being able to leverage its own R&D and Palm's and most importantly if the product or IP they get is complementary to their current and contemplated plans.
If the rumor is true, I suspect its to get the IP and be able to cannibalize web os features for the forked Amazon version of Android. While I would never put anything past Jeff Bezos, Amazon seems to be pretty well invested in their customized version of Android with the App Store and Silk, although what I see of Silk so far its platform agnostic.
On HP's side, if Amazon offered say, $1.6BN USD for everything and took over legacy web os support. Puppet Master Ray Lane and his sock puppet Meg would more than likely jump on that. Its quick money to bolster Q4, lets them save having to write off some of the wind down costs and since they decided to take the dinosaur path to corporate extinction at least the Palm/web os genus will be built on rather than dragged down in the HP tar pit.
If this were to happen, I would not be surprised to see Todd Bradly exit HP for Amazon. Frankly, since HP is likely to not spin off the personal computer division at this point, I suspect he is getting ready to go elsewhere anyway. I would if I had gotten the bums rush twice for the CEO spot.
That would be an interesting switch given the effort they made to rework the version of Android for their Fire device. Perhaps they are concerned that Microsoft is going to ask them to pay licensing fees like they had successfully done so with so many other Android based device producers. The licensing fees are turning into quite the profit center for Microsoft. Amazon is reportedly losing money on every device they sell so taking control of their OS destiny may be in their favor.
While I could see them scrapping Android for another underlying OS, I can't see them ditching the Appstore which they have dumped considerable marketing cash into. The daily freebie has cost them a fair share of rupees despite the stories of some devs getting zilch for the publicity. I could see them doing this for hardware experience more than an alternate OS. If I turn out to be wrong, though, I'll defer to the wisdom of Bezos, who has proven at this point that he has a pretty solid plan to take over the tablet market.
Amazon may want Web OS for the development platform particularly tablet optimized apps rather than competing directly with Google's plans with Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich. I remember that HP was talking about putting a Web OS shell on PCs and even printers so it seems like they could make it run on Amazon's custom version of android.
It would be great if Amazon could get the existing library of Web OS tablet apps to run on the Kindle Fire other than those that rely on features the touchpad has that the fire doesn't like the front facing camera.
One minor issue is that they would need a new app store or a hybrid one specifically for the kindle fire that included both android apps and Web OS apps.