We have all speculated what will become of Palm Inc., the venerable mobile company that started the story with the Palm Pilot and other early models, and they have been on life support for some time now. Over the last several months the speculation became a bit of a roar with the announcement of the ongoing poor quarterly sales of its flagship Palm Pre and Palm Pixi smartphones, not to mention the company itself.
This is not due to the actual devices though; the WebOS has been hailed as innovative, revolutionary and a potential threat to the IPhone Empire. The problem was its market positioning and cash reserves (or lack thereof) that drove the company to this state. Palm had very little cash on hand, (only?) 130 million dollars, as compared to its rivals and the marketing of the new product lines alone would kill that amount in no time. Well, that and the titanic forces of Blackberry, Android and naturally the IPhone, which constantly took a chunk out of Palm’s sales.
WebOS: Too Much Too Late for Palm
The company had released its new OS and browser in 2009 and the event was initially hailed as a triumph. Early developers gushed that the new smartphone OS more than lived up to its hype and it truly does. Nevertheless, the development was a little too late to save the company from the financial meltdown that followed due to the fierce competition roaring into view with both the Google Android OS and Apple’s intense market presence. Given enough time, Palm could very will have made significant inroads into that market on the strength of their WebOS, as well as with the Pre and Pixi themselves. Both of which are sleek, stylish and fast; so very fast.
What has happened is that HP has bought Palm for 1.2 billion dollars and they now own the company, the phones and the almost new but still revolutionary WebOS. At this point, there was more speculation as to what was going to happen. Everyone was thinking and I was even in the process of writing about the possibilities and speculation (of which I scrapped) concerning ideas such as “Will HP move the WebOS to its new Slate Tablet?” “Will they push the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi into the mobile market?” “Will HP abandon the revolutionary smartphones in lieu of their own with WebOS?”
HP did not say too much at that point, naturally, but it was clear the purchase was intended to give HP a wedge into the sprawling smartphone market. With the excitement over the WebOS this is certainly a possibility and considering they cut their Windows 7 ties to the Slate, more speculation continued. Now there are rumors that HP made mention they will in fact use the WebOS in place of Windows 7 on its upcoming Slate Tablet (more in an upcoming article). Can it really be? Well, all of the respected tech bloggers and reporters say there either will be a Slate with WebOS or they would like to see one. Apparently, it is still rumor at this point.
Remember the iPaq? HP’s own pocket PC that was years ahead of its time? While it was not a smartphone, nevertheless it was pretty smart with voice activation, touch-screen and Bluetooth. Sadly, that innovation went by the wayside due to poor management and support. I am sincerely hoping the Slate will not do the same now it has its new revolutionary WebOS to play with. Maybe it will be a little cheaper than its previously reported $549… We will just have to wait and see.
References & Resources
Network World: HP Will Buy Out Palm for $1.2 Billion
Information Week: HP iPad Killer DOA?
ZDNet: HP Slate with WebOS