HP acquires Palm

On April 28, 2010 HP agreed to acquire Palm Inc for $ 1.2 Billion

Palm is an amazing company; created Palm Pilot that brought “hand-writing” to computers in 1996 (where Apple failed in 1992 with its Apple Newton!)

Palm OS had an amazing simplicity and created “PDA” as a new class of gadgets; they were the best for keeping track of Calendar and Contacts; and a real value for money. They kept innovating by adding communication to PDA’s thru Palm Treo devices (much before the word Smartphone was invented!). Of course, they struggled – acquisition by US Robotics, hardware and software separation, getting sold to a Japanese company and finally revival with a ray of hope with ex Apple iPod designer getting back as CEO; within months an amazing product came out (Palm Centro). Of course with a great vision Palm brought out Palm Pre and WebOS 2 years back, but could not convince the US carriers (I wish they had flooded Asian and European markets where  “free” phones dominate (not tied to a career)! US is the country where practically no one enjoys “free” phone; the Telcos control the market in USA; even Apple could not fight AT&T!) But the struggle of the past 2 years has almost finished Palm much to the disappointment of many of us (long time Palm admirers). I have used practically every model of Palm!

HP‘s foray into “handheld computers” is not new – it is at least 15 years old! I have a nice  PDA running Windows 3.0 of 1996 vintage! They followed it up with Jornada. With Compaq acquisition Jornada got killed and iPaq became HP’s key PDA. For a while, HP talked of manufacturing Apple iPad though it never happened. With Palm acquisition HP has a good chance of making it

Mobile phones are the future; Motorola created mobile phone but it is always in “fits and starts” in the market; Nokia created the market, but unable to master “smart phones”. Apple created “Smart phone”, but cannot get even 3 models in 3 years (unlike Nokia, Samsung or even Motorola with dozens of models). Microsoft Phone appears promising but they might go the Zune way (into nowhere). It would be really interesting if HP can pump money into Palm (they badly need it), get WebOS products out, manufacture & distribute (HP is really good at it) and “mobilize” all applications (the way BlackBerry mobilized one application called “EMail”)

I wish the marriage great progeny (of products!)

It will be interestuing to watch

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One Response to “HP acquires Palm”

  1. Rajeev Suri Says:

    As ever, great insights from Prof Sadagopan, on Palm’s potential new makeover under HP…

    I echo the sentiment and wish Palm well…and completely agree that the mobile game matters the most looking into the future- as the Prof. argues.

    But one additional point- the game is perhaps moving on. It is no longer just the device, or the OS, or the design that are going to matter to success- perhaps more important is the ecosystem, to be more precise, the 3rd party Apps that are going to be available in the ecosystem that will matter.

    From that perspective, all the key players, led by the Apple App Store, Blackberry , Android and Nokia’s Ovi are putting in enormous efforts into the ecosystem and encouraging 3rd party apps availability on the device.

    That is one of the key reasons, that Apple is ahead -look at the plethora of Apps available- and Blackberry /Android are perhaps the fastest playing catchup.

    The question is, does HP have what it takes to create this ecosystem? Or, if they adopt another ecosystem, eg Android, how will they tackle being pitched directly with the likes of HTC, Google (Nexus1) and Motorola (Droid)

    Very interesting space to watch, indeed…

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