Time could be running out for Palm. We’ve been following the downfall of the once mighty maker of PDAs and last week it was reported that the list of interested parties – those companies that might step in and buy out the failing company – had thinned out considerably.
Taiwan’s HTC, the company that has come out of nowhere to become a major mobile phone maker after producing various Android devices for T-Mobile, was on the short list of interested parties. HTC was reportedly interested in Palm, as the latter holds patents that could benefit the former in its ongoing legal drama with Apple. However, on Friday Reuters reported that HTC was out of the running.
Also out are the usual suspects. In other words the companies that seemed like a good fit at first glance, really aren’t so on closer inspection. Apple is doing better than fine with its iPhone, so Palm has nothing to offer. Same goes with Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry. While Palm and RIM were serious competitors for a decade, the fact is that the BlackBerry is still standing tall and with a new BlackBerry OS in the works, RIM doesn’t need the WebOS from Palm. The tale is also the same with Nokia, which is reworking its own Symbian OS. Motorola is rebounding nicely with the Google Android OS as well. And that brings us to Google. The company was on the list, but again buying Palm would be just for the name, and what’s in a name? With Palm it is a company that is on the brink of failure.
So where does that leave Palm? Reuters also reported that Hong Kong-based PC maker Lenovo might be interested in buying Palm. The PC maker might be interested in Palm’s WebOS, which is actually pretty good. Too bad that Palm wasted in on the lackluster Palm Pre, and worse brought it out as an exclusive on Sprint last spring.
Lenovo previously bought IBM’s PC business in 2004, so buying up a cast-off isn’t exactly new to the company. The question will be whether the company can turn Palm around, and whether it would just be put in the same place. To really save Palm would require more devices, and potentially going the Google Android or Microsoft Windows Phone OS method – in other words, stop making the devices and focus on the software.
But another equation is whether business needs another OS, even if it is a good OS. This is something that still boggles the mind when it comes to phones. Right now we’re seeing that the majority of small offices and home offices use a PC, or a Mac. Linux is a much smaller player, especially in this space. We know that Google wants to “change” this too, with its Chrome OS. That is worthy of another debate, but the question now is that if we have two (or three) operating systems for the desktop, do we really need so much choice for the mobile phone?