Merger Malaise: Will Palm Phones Get Updates?


In the rapid-paced smartphone space platform updates are a big selling point for phones and a concern for existing phone customers. Platforms need updates to add features and squash bugs and customers are often watching and waiting for the next version to get released. Palm Pre and Pixi owners may be wondering about future updates to the webOS platform, given the looming takeover of Palm by HP . The “merger” won’t take place for a few months but it’s reasonable to think the webOS development effort at Palm is in a wait and see mode. HP is going to control things soon, and that’s not a good climate for near-term advancement of the webOS platform.

HP didn’t allay any concerns current Palm customers have with the initial statement by CEO Mark Hurd that HP “didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business.” Smartphones like the Pre and Pixi were not even mentioned by HP about the forward plans for the webOS platform. HP quickly back-pedaled and cleared up the confusion by the statement, and stated that smartphones did play a future role in HP’s webOS effort.

It is a legitimate question given lack of solid information about HP’s plans for the platform, and Palm’s current flux waiting for the takeover to happen– will there be any future updates for the Palm Pre and Pixi? No one involved wants to go on record to address this, but all parties involved make it clear that it is “business as usual”, implying that future versions of webOS will appear for existing customers at some point. That’s not the same as it actually happening, though.

Palm hasn’t set the smartphone world on fire with massive sales of its handsets, but there are thousands of webOS phone owners affected by the merger. It doesn’t help matters that Palm has already seen some key webOS developers leave the company prior to the HP merger being finalized. There are also some major telcos with a stake in this situation.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): To Win In the Mobile Market, Focus On Consumers

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