The press release announcing HP’s acquisition of Palm? You can get that anywhere. I’m fairly sure, however, that Technologizer is the only blog that will bring you the press releasing announcing the first time Palm was bought: fifteen years ago by US Robotics, for an impressive $44 million.
Tag Archives | Palm
Wow. The rumormongering about Palm ends today: HP is buying the struggling mobile pioneer for $1.2 billion. One of the largest tech companies on the planet will own WebOS, one of the best available mobile operating systems–but one which has failed so far to make much of an impact as it’s shipped on Palm’s Pre and Pixi handsets. It qualifies as a shocker given that most of the scuttlebutt about possible purchasers involved Asian manufacturers such as Lenovo and HTC.
When a huge old-school company buys a scrappy (relatively) little one, my instinct is always to be worried. There are far more examples of such mergers failing than there are of ones that have thrived. And there aren’t many examples of companies in distressed condition getting turned around big time.
But let’s play optimist for a moment…
It seems as if these days, every story I’m writing on Palm is a negative one, and this one is no different. With the potential list of suitors for the ailing company dwindling, its list of distributors shrinking, and the company quickly burning through what money it has left, executives are getting restless.
In the last week alone, the company has lost two of its high-level executives, software senior vice president Michael Abbott (who went to Twitter), and now carrier marketing vice president Caitlin Spaan, one of the company’s most tenured employees. Not exactly sure here, but this unease at the executive level could be contributing to the latest rumor.
Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch reports on an “imminent” management shuffle and restructuring which may end up with the dismissal of Jon Rubinstein as the company’s CEO. Rubinstein was brought over from Apple to work on development of Palm’s newest devices and was elevated to the position of CEO in June of last year.
Rubinstein has been able to do little about Palm’s continued slide into near-irrelevancy, and has had a hard time finding a buyer for the company. Some are suggesting that his background in hardware and not management may make him unsuitable to lead Palm right now, and it may require somebody with a little more marketing know-how.
I’d argue that its not a matter of knowing how to market the company, it may just be that Palm has little value period. Its time may be long gone and without any marketable product, the value may be solely in the intellectual property it holds. If that’s the case, the $1 billion or so that the company is said to be looking for may be drastically more than anyone is willing to pay.
Reuters is reporting that its sources have said that Chinese PC brand Lenovo is now the leading candidate to buy Palm. This follows HTC’s apparent decision to pass on the US device maker following a look at Palm’s books, the story reads. It’s estimated that Palm could sell for about $1.3 billion based on the current market, a bargain considering its once mighty position in the industry.
This would not be the first time Lenovo was involved in cellular phones, however. Several years ago, the company sold that portion of its business to focus on PCs, however it bought it back last year. It has one smartphone which is currently available in China.
Radio Shack is phasing out Palm phones, putting another nail in what seems to be the coffin for the once powerful smart device manufacturer. The confirmation isn’t coming from “The Shack” directly: instead a Sprint representative confirmed to Barron’s that the retailer was phasing out Palm in favor of other devices.
Sprint spokesperson Scott Sloat said that the move was part of Radio Shack’s normal refresh of it’s cellular phone lines to keep things current. The Shack must now feel that Palm is falling behind — or just plain unpopular among consumers — if it is ready to ditch the brand.
But that’s not all: analysts are now increasingly pointing out that Palm will likely not sell at its current share price (around $5 as of April 19th). This can be interpreted to mean that most don’t have the confidence that the company will have any value to investors (and heck, buyers too), and is poised to fall even more.
Indeed, 17 of 19 analysts polled by Bloomberg said the stock is overvalued, with at least one saying the stock has no value at all. And the longer it takes a buyer to emerge, the more the price of the stock will fall, allowing any buyer to pick up the company on the cheap.
With interest from buyers described as “tepid,” it may be a while before any potential suitor emerges. Then again, some may be waiting for Palm to become a bargain before moving to snatch it up.
Either way, the company probably has only a few months to figure out its next moves. It is believed that the company would have burned through at least half of its cash-on-hand by August, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to think without a buyer, it would be all but out of money by the new year.
Bloomberg says that Palm wants to sell itself and Lenovo and HTC are interested. As a bystander who’s fond of both Palm’s current products and its immense legacy, my preferred outcome is still that Palm figure out how to stay independent and successful. If that’s not possible, I’m rooting for a buyer who can figure out how to make WebOS into the major mobile-OS player it deserves to be–and I’m fretting about scenarios in which its gets bought and withers away.
Wow. When I wrote about Palm’s Pre Plus on Verizon one month ago, it was $150 (after a $100 rebate) on a two year contract, and the Mobile Hotspot feature was $40 a month. Now the Pre Plus is $50, and Mobile Hotspot is free. (The Pe Plus’s little sibling, the Pixi Plus, is $30.) The price cuts make the nifty Pre Plus one of the best bargains in smartphones–maybe the best buy.
I’ve landed in Las Vegas for CTIA Wireless, the U.S.’s biggest phone confab. The show floor doesn’t open until tomorrow, but news is already breaking. AT&T, for instance, has announced that it’s adding Palm’s Pre Plus and Pixi Plus to its lineup, as well as Dell’s Android-based Aero–the first Dell phone to ship in the U.S.
At the moment, it’s fashionable to declare Palm to be dead. It’s true that things look bleak at the moment, but pundits have been writing premature obituaries for the company for years, so I’d take the current round of knowing analysis with a grain of salt. With the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus’s arrival on AT&T, there are Palm handsets on ever major U.S. carrier except T-Mobile. That can’t hurt, and might help.
(I’m sorry that the AT&T Pre Plus lacks the nifty Mobile HotSpot feature that’s available on the Verizon version. But I’m not surprised: If AT&T had enabled MHS on the Pre while continuing to deny iPhone users the tethering it said was “coming soon” back in 2008, iPhone users would have headed towards AT&T headquarters with pitchforks.)
Dell, meanwhile, is a company that hasn’t had much luck with handheld gizmos in the past (remember the DJ?). The Aero runs Dell’s own Android interface and is based on the Mini 3, which has only been available in China and Brazil until now. I’ll try to track one down before I head home from the show.
In WebOS, Palm has one of the best mobile operating systems on the planet–the basis of some very nice phones. But almost all the recent news for the company has been bleak. Engadget, which wrote a famous open letter to Palm in 2007–full of suggestions that mapped closely to the route Palm ended up taking–is providing advice again. It’s tough love, and it all makes sense to me.
From time to time, I’ve called Palm’s Pre the Most Interesting Smartphone That Isn’t the iPhone. It’s now been almost nine months since the Pre debuted on Sprint, and a bunch of other formidable handsets have since appeared, such as the Verizon Droid and Google Nexus One. But thanks to its exceptionally inventive WebOS software and distinctive form factor, the Pre still holds its own.
Now the Sprint Pre has been joined by the Pre Plus, which runs on Verizon Wireless and began shipping in January. After I recently said I was flirting with abandoning my AT&T iPhone, Palm offered to loan me a Plus for review. Here’s my take, following up on the story I did on the original Sprint Pre back in June. Executive summary: the Pre Plus isn’t a radically different phone from its predecessor, but it’s still a really good one–and while the WebOS third-party application situation pales in comparison to the iPhone, it’s better than I expected judged on the number of available apps alone.
(Note: Over the weekend, Palm pushed out WebOS 1.4, an OS upgrade that enables video capture and which supports Adobe’s Flash Player. However, it’s n0t yet available for Verizon’s WebOS phones, the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, and I haven’t tried it.)