Time for change at Palm, company seeking new ownership

Palm_hq Even with their rich history, Palm doesn't get much play here at Pocketables, mainly because of their inability to keep up with the Joneses, or in this case, Apple and Google. Not for a lack of effort, because webOS is a formidable alternative to the iPhone OS and Android, but the hardware is a different story. The Pre and Pixi have been huge sales disappointments, and although they were considered Palm's last chance to get back in the game they practically created years ago, they may be getting a do-over.

Bloomberg is reporting that Palm is ready to face the music and has put the company up for sale, at least according to three unnamed sources familiar with the dealings. Goldman Sachs and Qatalyst Partners have been tapped to find prospective buyers, with both HTC and Lenovo the favorites after Dell decided to pass. As expected, the talking heads for each of the involved parties have all declined comment at this time, due to the private nature of talks thus far.

If a sale does go through, it will have a definite effect on the handheld market, because even though Palm is battered and bruised, they do hold some technology jewels that could be put to great use in the right hands and hardware. Imagine HTC integrating webOS and SenseUI into a fuller OS layer to run on Android or a new mini-tablet device. What if Apple jumped in at the last minute to grab some of the valuable patents that Palm still holds, or just to keep them away from their lawsuit buddy HTC?

The possibilities are endless, as compared to being at the end if Palm had stayed the course.

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

Avatar of Chris King

8 thoughts on “Time for change at Palm, company seeking new ownership

  • Personally, I’d rather see Lenovo buy them. They’d probably have more of a chance of retaining the DNA of what makes webOS so attractive, if that’s the case (similar to when the ThinkPad line was bought).

    Palm’s problems aren’t one of technology, but one of finances and marketing. The OS’ positives far outweigh the negatives, for most who use it. They just don’t have enough money to keep up with Apple and Google, and their marketing has been horrible. Sure, the OS needs improvement, but it’s a very solid base. Lenovo or another large company with no current smartphone presence could do a lot worse than to pick up Palm to get into the market.

    I mean, if Lenovo (just an example) wants in the smartphone market, it’ll take a much longer time to get the right people in, to get up to speed with Android, etc. With Palm they could dive right in. Sure, Palm has had some QA/QC problems, but they obviously have some very talented engineers and developers, regardless of the financial position they’re in.

    Though, what I’d like to see most of all is for Palm to stick around on their own, but that looks more and more doubtful.

    webOS on top of Android would be a complete kludge, honestly. I mean, you’d have widgets, webOS cards and services, SDL applications, and Java applications. Tying it all together into something coherent would be very difficult. I see HTC being much more interested in the patent library than the OS.

    If it wasn’t for Nokia already being tied up with Intel, a Maemo / webOS combination would make more sense, since they have a lot more in common.

  • IMO, It doesn’t really matter who handles the Hardware side, as long as they won’t make the same mistake as Palm. WebOS is the jewel. That OS has a lot of potential and it’s a unfortunate if it dies.

  • Avatar of JDGAFFLIN

    Unforfunately I think whoever scoops them up will probably only make the acquisition for Palm’s extensive patent portfolio. Given the current Apple VS. HTC scrap, It makes sense in that regard for HTC to pull the trigger.

    It’s still a shame. Inspite of the rabid Apple fanboyism and the mind bogoling adulation for a fragmented OS like Android, everyone I’ve demoed WebOS to walks away amazed.

  • I had bought a Sprint Pre on launch day last summer, but I was very disappointed in the hardware and returned it a few weeks later. The OS was pretty solid, apart from it just seeming a bit sluggish when launching apps, but many of the kinks have been worked out.

    The thing that drove me crazy was the slider mechanism, which was almost impossible to open one handed due to the slightly curved bottom-half of the phone where the two halves slide together, just below the keyboard. There was nowhere for my thumb to “grab”, like on every other slider phone, so I had to push down harder, which made it very hard to open.

  • Can’t say I’ve ever had any issue with the slider mechanism like you describe. I just gently put my thumb on the screen itself and slide up.

    The OS definitely had a lot of kinks at first launch, but as you say, a lot of that has been fixed by now. Maybe some more time before launch would’ve been good, but they weren’t in a financial position where they could’ve done that.

    In more related news to their being up for sale, word is that Cisco is one of the three potential bidders at the moment. I find that VERY intriguing with their infrastructure investments as well as their recent push into the consumer markets with Pure Digital (the Flip Cams) and Linksys.

  • That might have been the problem…I was always trying to open it at the “dot”, not further up on the screen.

    I think webOS would be perfect on a small 5-inch or less tablet, probably better than Android. The card setup for app switching and closing is ingenious, and the notifications are much better than the iPhone.

  • Avatar of Joseph G. Mitzen

    Forget all of these other options; I have one word for you:

    All of the mobile Linuxes need to merge together like Voltron.

  • Avatar of yamete888

    merge and “defend the universe” like Voltron as well? :-P


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