Palm is reportedly seeking a buyer, and among the top potential suitors being named are HTC and Lenovo. Taiwan’s HTC would be the logical choice, as Palm’s innovative and intuitive webOS platform would make the handset maker a key player in the worldwide smartphone market, lifting it from its current role as supporting cast member.
HTC may not be a household name outside of Asia, yet it manufacturers 6 percent of all smartphones sold around the world. A longtime Microsoft partner for Windows Mobile devices — it built the first smartphones for Redmond’s platform — HTC also designed and builds Google’s Nexus One handset, which is arguably the best Android device available in terms of specifications. Other HTC handsets running Android include the original G1, MyTouch 3G, Droid Eris and Hero. With so much reliance upon HTC — Flurry says 61 percent of all Android phones sold are made by HTC — a sale of Palm could mean Google would have to find a new hardware partner as HTC would likely leverage Palm’s operating system for its own brand of handsets.
But hardware isn’t HTC’s only area of expertise. The visually appealing HTC Sense user interface, which was rolled out a few years ago, is a popular software shell atop Windows Mobile whose widgets and menus make the phones easier to use. Unfortunately for HTC, there isn’t room for such software in Microsoft’s future. With its Windows Phone 7 platform due out before year-end, Microsoft is placing more hardware and software controls in place, which could leave custom interface designers like HTC out in the cold. By purchasing Palm, HTC would immediately vault itself to a Microsoft competitor.
Indeed, buying Palm would mean HTC would stand alone for the first time ever as a viable smartphone company, one with hardware expertise, prior relationships with nearly every carrier worldwide and a new software platform to call its very own. It makes perfect “sense” for HTC to make a play for Palm.
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