Monday, April 12, 2010

PALM is up for sale

My very first smartphone was the Palm 180G ( a monochrome flip type with a glass screen cover ). Over the next few years I have progressively upgraded to the colored model 270G, Treo 750V ( Windows), Treo 680 and Treo Pro ( Windows ). Palm products then was not popular and was then considered a "specialist" phone for the geeky types. Sales and service support was terribly poor in Malaysia and Singapore. The brand eventually " die off" in Malaysia about 2 years ago. Their sales in USA was poor too with the surge in greater demand for Windows Mobile from HTC and Samsung, the Symbians range of Nokia and S Ericsson, and of course the iPhone.

Palm which currently has a US$870.8 million market value is now up for sale. This news was reported by Bloomberg on 12 Apr and the sale will be handled through Goldman Sachs and Quattrone Qatalyst Partners just after CEO Jon Rubinstein announced his plan to make Palm profitable.

Possible buyers are HTC and Lenovo with offers this week but as expected both makers had declined comment . HTC is most probably the final buyer and it makes total sense, because by buying Palm HTC may find in Palm the patent portfolio it needs to battle Apple's lawsuit.

Apple and Palm has threatened to sue each other in the past. Rubinstein, who was at Apple during the development of the iPhone, came to Palm to create a theoretical iPhone killer and save the company from irrelevance. He got a nice phone, but his marketing strategy failed miserably. However, during this time Apple never sued Palm, presumably because Palm has enough patents to sue Apple back and make the legal battle pointless.

Palm has a long history in the PDA and smartphone worlds. Their original Palm Pilot—their low-cost Newton — was a total success back in the 90s, and their Treo smartphones were probably the first nice PDA/phone hybrids. As a result of this long story, Palm owns patents that may become very effective weapons in the war against Apple's iPhone. Weapons that HTC may use to settle the lawsuit against Apple.

Whoever buys Palm will gain access to a a modern smartphone operating system in the market. That's definitely an interesting development since Palm's webOS would strength both companies position in the smartphone market. HTC is already using Windows Mobile and Android for its smartphones. One thing seems to be clear - Palm's asset cant be the hardware and its design (especially HTC is building way better looking devices) but both companies might be especially interested in the Palm brand, the sales channels and Palm's own operating system technology - webOS - making HTC and Lenovo even more independent from Microsoft and Google.

If this sale go through, we as consumers would benefit from this convergence of technologies against the hegemonic Apple.

Full details of this breaking news :

Bloomberg :


Android Central :

Engadget :

Gizmodo :

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