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Summary:

Beleaguered Palm is looking for a buyer, according to a report by Bloomberg. The company has failed to capitalize sufficiently on the webOS platform launched to great fanfare, and is courting companies for a sale. Two companies thought to have an interest are Lenovo and HTC.

Palm webOS thumb

Beleaguered Palm is looking for a buyer, according to a report by Bloomberg. The company has failed to capitalize sufficiently on the webOS platform — launched to great fanfare a couple of years ago — and is courting companies for a sale. Rumors of a potential sale of Palm have been swirling for a while, and an official search for a buyer will be announced soon according to Bloomberg.

Two companies mentioned to have an interest in acquiring Palm are Lenovo and HTC. Lenovo produces the ThinkPad line of notebook computers, and has recently entered the smartphone market through an acquisition of Lenovo Mobile Communication Technology Ltd. HTC is one of the largest makers of Android and Windows Mobile handsets. An acquisition of Palm by HTC would have definite ramifications in the smartphone world, as it would add Palm’s webOS to HTC’s already impressive product line.

HTC has recently been sued by Apple for alleged patent infringements, and an acquisition of Palm could play an unexpected role in that legal situation. Palm has a healthy portfolio of patents going back to the Palm Pilot days, and it’s possible these could be leveraged by HTC in its battle with Apple.

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  1. Brian S Hall Monday, April 12, 2010

    I think HTC will acquire Palm. WebOS is pretty good, for 2008, but HTC has been so aggressive with Android and the action is with Android and iPhone.

    But HTC would definitely benefit from having the Palm nameplate (which is where I think most of the value is).

  2. WebOS was launched just last year and, in fact, the Pre hasn’t even been available for a full year yet. A lot has happened in the Smartphone business in the last year probably making it seem longer, but that still doesn’t qualify as “a couple years”. :)

  3. It’s too bad it came to this…

    It’s been widely reported that HTC is interested, but it won’t be HTC that eventually picks up Palm. HTC is a hardware company that is extremely successfully building phones that run other’s operating systems. Bringing Palm in house whole would mean HTC would be competing with its existing customer base. Ain’t gonna happen.

    My guess is that it will be a company with money to spend looking to boost a weak smartphone lineup like HP, Acer, or Lenovo. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nokia makes a bid; they’ve had great difficulty cracking the U.S. smartphone market and acquiring Palm would give them an instant in with two major carriers.

    1. I agree entirely that if anyone’s going to keep webOS in a similar form to how it is now, it’ll be a bigger company with little to no smartphone presence like Lenovo or similar. Buying a company entirely would be a huge head-start compared to how long it’d take to get up to speed with Android. And despite all of Palm’s problems, I think it’s hard to deny that they’ve got some pretty talented engineers and developers on staff. And hey, Jon Rubinstein could go back to what he’s good at (design) and not have to be the CEO.

      Honestly, I think HTC would just gut the company for the patents and maybe the Palm name.

      What I’d really like to see is Palm be able to stick it out on their own, though I don’t think that’s very likely anymore. Maybe the best solution for them would be to take the company private and not have to worry about the volatility of being publicly-traded, but that doesn’t seem likely either.

      1. I’m glad I checked back because:

        “HTC has recently been sued by Apple for alleged patent infringements, and an acquisition of Palm could play an unexpected role in that legal situation. Palm has a healthy portfolio of patents going back to the Palm Pilot days, and it’s possible these could be leveraged by HTC in its battle with Apple.”

        is absolutely wrong. Here’s why:

        The only possible scenario here is that HTC would at some point down the road threaten Apple with a “revenge” suit using Palm’s patent portfolio as ammunition, since even if the portfolio contained the necessary patents, they would be inadmissible in the current suit. The “threat of a threat” would actually work against HTC.

        First, if sufficiently concerned, Apple could simple make its own bid for Palm. It wouldn’t be the first time a company took over another to end legal complications and the move would certainly pass anti-trust muster. At the least, such a move would significant drive up the price of Palm. Either way, HTC loses if it is serious about Palm.

        The more likely scenario is the current lawsuit continues as is. The more I learn, the more it appears to me that HTC did encroach on Apple’s patents. (Disclaimer: I’m no fan of the current state of the patent process in the U.S. and would be the first to say that many Apple patents should have never been granted. However, that’s true of virtually ever patent portfolio, including HTC’s. That’s why the lawyers in this lawsuit will most likely take the patents at face value as not to invite unwanted scrutiny.) Its very likely that HTC will settle at some point and part of that settlement will include prohibitions against future lawsuits against Apple.

        Finally, in the very unlikely scenario HTC acquires Palm, retains the ability to sue Apple, and finds a patent or two “suit worthy”, there’s the reason Palm wasn’t all over Apple in the courts in the first place: Jon Rubinstein. Rubinstein may be Palm’s current CEO, but once upon a time, he was head of Apple’s iPod and Mac divisions. Apple’s lawyers would have a field day with HTC if the comapny attempted to use Palm’s patent portfolio as a legal stick against Apple.

        Palm’s patent portfolio would be more trouble than its worth for HTC.

  4. Bubba Clinton Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    If HTC buys Palm all hell will break loose. Be advised that WebOS is stolen from Apple IP. Everyone knows when those ex-Apple engineers moved to Palm they transferred Steve Job’s IP to WebOS, this is obvious to everybody including Apple. The only reason Apple hasn’t sued Palm is because they posed little to no threat to their business. However once HTC purchases Palm using chump change the game will change and APPL Legal will come down on HTC like a ton-o-bricks you can be sure.

    And don’t even get me started on Palm’s lame iPod spoofing in WebOS which was a pathetic attempt by Palm to remain relevant with the Pre since they had such an abysmal quantity of apps.

    HTC need to answer the following question before they decide to buy Palm fire sale assests:

    “Do you really want to visit Injuction City at this time, well do ya punk ?”

    Warning: DO NOT MAKE STEVEN P. JOBS ANGRY !

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