HP Buying Palm: Love It or Hate It?

Is HP reuniting Palm and 3Com? That was a clever joke (and reality...) that was passed around the web, but the truth is that Palm finally has been sold, and Hewlett-Packard (a recent buyer of 3Com) is the victor --- or are they? Does Palm have a lot to offer HP, or is HP  merely scooping up the last dregs of a once great company? Here's the scoop on the purchase and some implications that go along with it...

If you want to read the official details, you can get them here, but I'll give you the straight rundown.

HP is buying Palm at a rate of $5.70 per share of Palm common stock in cash or otherwise, in plain English, after the math, a whopping $1.2 billion. Now that's walking around money.

The reason? The press-fluff jargon calls it a "combination of HP's global scale and financial strength with Palm's unparalleled WebOS platform [that] will enhance HP..."

Enhancing their mobile market, specifically. And it would seem to make a lot more sense if Windows Mobile 7 Series wasn't poking around the corner and looking so sexy. But Windows Mobile 7 is, and alas, iPaq's will most definitely have something cool to be running now that the standard mobile Windows is no more.

But not to fret, choices are always good, right? So, will PocketPC's and iPaqs be given a choice to either run WebOS or Windows Mobile 7? Who knows -- it would be nice. But the press release hints at the real jewel inside the crumpled Palm cloister. Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, HP makes it abundantly clear...

"...Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team. The smartphone market is large, profitable and rapidly growing, and companies that can provide an integrated device and experience command a higher share...."
Naturally, HP wants those assets to amp up their smartphone competition. Palm has a plethora of multi-touch assets along with a solid design team who built -- like Apple -- a device and a software built around the device at the same time. Close knit integration always breeds superior products. And the Palm Pre and Pixi aren't so much 'inferior' as they were just not bright enough to shine in the already harshly illuminated  smartphone market. So will they fade away as WebOS gets torn apart and rewoven into code for new OSes and HP devices?

That's not how John Rubinstein, chairman and chief executive officer at Palm (who's expected to remain with the company) sees it...
"We're thrilled by HP's vote of confidence in Palm's technological leadership...HP's longstanding culture of innovation... make[s] it the perfect partner to rapidly accelerate the growth of webOS,"
Well, that's good news. This blogger actually finds WebOS quite charming and innovative. If Palm released WebOS around the same time the iPhone came out, they actually would've gotten a jump on the Google Android platform.

But the web is filled with opposing commentary and much opinion about the buyout. Some think that HP should just scoop up whatever hardware IP they can, and trash WebOS -- others think that the Pre and the Pixi should go run Android -- some Windows Mobile 7 series. Better yet, the Twittersphere is alive with people thinking about a migration of WebOS and HP's own technologies.

Most specifically...a tablet. WebOS is sexy enough to give a clunky Windows 7 based tablet new life, and give Apple a run for its money. Arguably, WebOS is a lot 'sexier' than Android, even though it's not as well adopted, but a 10 inch WebOS tablet would catch a user's eye. And it might spur more development.

Of course, it's all pipe dreams and speculation. Nothing is really certain at all yet.

But what is certain is that this is definitely a game changer in the industry. Even if it's small, or starts off subtle, expect some very cool things to happen from HP with their newly acquired Palm.

Quote me on it.

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