HP CEO Leo Apotheker confirmed to Bloomberg that HP is in talks with "a number of companies" about licensing webOS. "A number of companies have expressed interest. We are continuing our conversations," he said. Leo first said HP would be "open" to licensing earlier this month when we asked him about it at D9.

We reached out to Palm webOS chief Jon Rubinstein and he clarified HP's angle for us, making it clear they won't just take anybody: "If someone wants to really invest, and potentially help develop webOS, we're interested in talking to them." We threw out a theoretical about HTC doing Android, Windows Phone 7 and webOS simultaneously, and Jon expounded: "If it was the primary one they were going to do and they were going to add real value back into the ecosystem, and 'oh by the way' they were doing some Android or Microsoft stuff, of course we'd consider it — but if we're going to be one of 5 or 6 OSs, it's hard to see — it wouldn't make any sense." It sounds a lot like HP is looking for a Microsoft / Nokia-style relationship, which is apparently all the rage these days. We brought up Sony Ericsson (Sony was a flagship partner of Palm, building a wild series of Palm-powered Clié handhelds), but Jon wouldn't comment on that.

Bloomberg has several sources claiming Samsung is on the list, with Samsung supposedly looking for a platform it can customize, in case Google starts locking down Android. Jason Kim, a Samsung spokesman, refuted the latter claim: "Samsung will continue to strengthen its relationship with Google to provide ultimate values to customers." Neither company commented on Samsung looking at webOS. No matter who is involved, HP is spinning this to sound very speculative and theoretical at this point: "there is no time pressure to do this,” Apotheker told Bloomberg.