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Let the Dell/Palm Rumors Begin

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delle Dell (s dell) is looking to make acquisitions, according to one of its executives, who made the comment a day after the computer maker reported dismal earnings for its latest fiscal quarter, IDG News said today. Steve Felice, president of Dell’s small and medium business unit, said during a conference call with reporters that the computer company was looking at ways to expand and had a “desire to increase activity for inorganic growth.” In other words, Dell wants to buy stuff.

Dell hasn’t made many acquisitions, and of those that it has made, few have been game-changers, with the exception of its EqualLogic buy. Still, it didn’t take long for the IDG article to throw out Palm (s Palm) as a potential target. In the tech world this may be the equivalent of Brangelina — a sexy yet beneficial combination in light of Dell’s consumer and smartphone aspirations and Palm’s floundering business but solid reputation for innovative, user-friendly products. The possibility of a tie-up between the two was first floated in April 2007, after Dell killed its line of PDAs, and again in March 2009, after analysts pushed the idea. Since then, it’s never really strayed too far from the collective consciousness of the tech blogosphere. For those who may appreciate the sex appeal of Dell buying Palm, but would rather see Dell stick to what it knows, Barron’s posted a list back in December (which was the last time Dell said it wanted to buy companies), that included five data center-focused companies. Two of them, Sun Microsystems (s java) and DataDomain (s ddup), have since been snapped up by Oracle (s orcl) and NetApp (s ntap), respectively. So we’re left with Commvault (s cmvt), a backup play, and Compellant (s CML) or 3Par (s PAR), both of which are focused on storage technology.

As a bonus, check out Om’s interview last July with Michael Dell.

11 Responses to “Let the Dell/Palm Rumors Begin”

  1. SeanBlader

    Dell’s problem is they couldn’t develop software if they hired Bill Gates to come in and manage it for them. They’re one of the worst at delivering custom apps for their systems. If you’d ever seen their DVD/BluRay player software, you wouldn’t think they are in the technology business, and once you did see it, you wish they’d stop.

  2. I would like to see somebody pick up Palm. The WebOS is quite nice, and as an iPhone developer, I could see some excellent possibilities. In particular, I would like to see a tablet, perhaps based on that nifty PixelQi technology, that is available at close to educational prices. Apple seems reluctant to offer something that is cost-effective while being actually useful, even though the iPod would be an excellent tool at a larger size.

    With a more product differentiated approach, the combination of professional, educational, and consumer markets could be served. By being picked up, some encouragement to the viability of the OS would be provided as well. As an application platform the most viable are Apple and Android from my perspective. Palm would have a great shot with further backing.

    I am looking forward to seeing the device, and on the watch for word of an actual SDK to access additional resources.

    • Stacey Higginbotham

      Larry, the person quoted in the IDG article sounds like he was elaborating on Michael Dell’s comments from the earnings call. But in that transcript, you’re right, Dell was talking about deals in response to cementing its spots in the enterprise, which make the suggestions in the last graf far more relevant than Palm.

  3. Justas Anaside

    It would be FAR cheaper for Dell to contract with HTC (or equivalent Taiwanese ODM) than to spend the BILLIONS of dollars on Palm and it’s single semi-unique untested Version device.

    About 200 million shares after the preferred shares are taken into account, about twelve bucks a share today, 400 million in debt. Add some sort of premium – 40%% seems to be popular recently for other acquisitions. Do the math.

    Ain’t gonna happen – by anyone.

  4. This is old news .
    Mobile computing is the future.
    The issue with DELL buying PALM is , after the acquisition , the core team leaves PALM.
    The main investor Elevation Partners will be happy to see their half a billion double to a billion.
    Ed Colligan, Jon Rubinstein .. and creme de la creme talents leaves Dell if not given a free hand in running the business.

    It would be better if PALM stays alone.
    Or Dell should follow Warren Buffet’s style of buying the company but not messing with the management.

  5. I’m short Palm, have nothing in Dell except the system I’m typing on now. That said, Palm should go to HP, not Dell. HP has a long history of carrier relationships, a more creative culture that might nurture an independent OS, and a headquarters close to Palm’s. Dell is a box mover. They’d kill Palm and have nothing to show for it.