New Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman may try to sell the Palm WebOS mobile platform designed into the ill-fated TouchPad tablet.
HP bought it last year for $1.2 billion, when the world's biggest computer company acquired Palm, one of the innovators in the handheld market. A Reuters report said HP is working with Bank of America to sell the unit.
Prospective buyers could include virtually all the rivals of Apple in the tablet sector, including Amazon, Intel, Oracle and Research in Motion, the troubled Canadian BlackBerry developer which paid $780 million this year for patents from defunct Nortel Networks as part of a syndicate headed by Apple.
Alternatively, Whitman, CEO of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP, may decide to keep webOS as part of the strategic review she undertook upon her election Sept. 25. Last month, she reversed the decision made by former CEO Leo Apotheker to sell the PC division, the world's biggest PC maker.
Whitman, the former eBay CEO who lacks a technology background, said she is relying upon HP's new Executive Chairman, Ray Lane, for advice on software issues. Lane served many years as president of Oracle under CEO Larry Ellison.
Amazon, which will start shipping its Kindle Fire tablets next week, has designed Google's Android OS into them. CEO Jeff Bezos has said he's committed to the Android OS. Amazon reported cash and investments of $6.3 billion in the third quarter.
HP's Palm VP, Jon Rubinstein, is a director of Seattle-based Amazon.
HP, though, may try to relaunch itself into the tablet sector, after selling as many as a million TouchPads during the quarter ended Oct. 31, at regular and clearance prices. The demand, even for $99 discontinued products, showed consumers will pay for a tablet priced $400 below Apple's iPad2.
HP may shed more light on its webOS plans when it reports fourth-quarter results Nov. 21. The company declined comment.
HP shares fell 10 cents to $27.78 in mid-morning. Since Whitman's election as CEO they have gained $24.5 percent.