Is HP’s new acquisition, Palm, a Sinking Ship?

In some ways I regret the title of this piece. There are some very capable and visionary engineers and designers who make up the heart of Palm. But I do think that Palm itself, as we knew it, is falling apart.

In the last few weeks, after HP snapped up Palm, we’ve seen some worrying signs from the company.

Last month Matias Duarte left Palm. Apparently to go and work for Google. Who are not just a rival handset maker. Apart from Apple, Google with its Android smartphone ecosystem is the other major smartphone player in the world. Period. Not only that, but he went to work as a lead in their Android User Experience Department. Not an insignificant role!

HP’s reaction? They didn’t even issue a statement about the reasons behind the main architect of Palm’s webOS operating system apparently fleeing the company.

One can only read into that turn of events that HP didn’t see it coming, or that even if they did they perhaps either didn’t care or couldn’t spin it in any positive way. So said nothing.

In the first couple of days of this month, HP’s CEO issued the rather worrying and myopic statement that his company “didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business”. He went on to try and qualify this sound-byte. But his explanation didn’t make things much better either.

A few scant hours later a rather rushed PR statement from HP tried to further clarify the CEO’s original statement, and to smooth ruffled features of HP’s shareholders.

Today we are hearing news that Rich Dellinger, another key webOS engineer, and a former Apple employee has also left Palm to return to Apple.

HP will obviously have the technology of webOS, as it stands, frozen in time to use as they see fit moving forward. And they’ll also reap the benefit of Palm’s patent portfolio.

But other than that it seems that Palm is still slowly disintegrating. Even after being bought out in what seemed at first like a rescue bid. It really would have been much better for Palm if they had been snapped up by Lenovo or HTC, other rumored suitors.

It seems that we are witnessing a rather sad end to a once truly innovative company.

Do you think its all over for Palm? Will we ever see any fruit from HP’s acquisition? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Stephen NorthcottIs HP’s new acquisition, Palm, a Sinking Ship?

4 Comments on “Is HP’s new acquisition, Palm, a Sinking Ship?”

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  2. Lulu

    Apparently the writer does not realize the acquisition has not been approved yet. This means that Palm is still an independent company today. So, how would HP be seen if they commented? Not having added this to the context deflects the whole argument here. Also, it seems the writer is not well informed. HP said the prime reason of acquiring Palm was WebOS, not the smartphone business. As devices converge, it makes sense to have an OS that could address the whole mobile space of which smartphones is only one part. Saying that buying an OS is the main reason, does not read to me like HP will leave the smartphone market. By the way HP makes smartphones already and has not been leaving that market either.

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