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HP buying Palm for webOS tablets, patents

updated 05:20 pm EDT, Wed April 28, 2010

HP explains Palm deal in conference call

HP in a conference call discussing its buyout of Palm revealed that the deal was meant to get webOS and spread it beyond phones. Executives called webOS a "world-class" mobile platform and said it would put the software on "multiple connected devices" that it said could include tablets and netbooks. Palm's OS has true app multitasking and a heavy focus on the cloud that can be used to HP's advantage, the companies said in the call.

Most of HP's contribution would come from its sheer size and reach, as it planned to invest heavily into Palm and help spread its devices worldwide. HP can afford to sell phones in areas that Palm couldn't afford to reach on its own, officials said.

It added that HP likes the idea of an "integrated solution" where it controls both the hardware and software and cited articles pointing out that Palm had potentially beaten rivals like the iPhone and BlackBerry. It still intends to support Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows Phone despite the move.

Palm's "valuable" patent portfolio was also important, according to HP. As one of the first to make a smartphone, Palm has patents covering large parts of the technology and has been able to use multi-touch on the Pre and Pixi even though Apple has patents relating to the technology.

HP couldn't yet say when it would expect to have webOS tablets as it needs the deal to close in July before it can commit to the idea. Palm's existing phone roadmap won't change in the near future, and HP doesn't plan to get into the content business.

The new revelations may pit HP more directly against Apple and Google, both of whom have chosen to make tablets based on phone platforms rather than follow HP's existing direction with its Windows 7 slate. Using a mobile OS has so far had major advantages in battery life and in the costs of the underlying hardware.

by MacNN Staff



  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Who knew?

    Who knew that HP would be just as schizophrenic post-Carly as it was under her reign? Do you want your Preario Slate Home Edition with WebOS, Windows Mobile, or Windows Phone 7? Maybe they'll even develop an Adams Family themed synch software that only works on Windows 7, to go along with it.

    -- Len

  1. canonsucks

    Joined: Dec 1969


    IT's About Choices

    Nice to see HP still believes in the power of choice.

    It will be interesting to see how Palm evolves under this new deal.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    How had the Palm Pre potentially

    beaten out the iPhone? Web apps and multitasking? I think those things have already been negated by Apple.

    HP wants to use three mobile OSes? Redundancy, I suppose.

  1. garmonbosia

    Joined: Dec 1969


    now will Apple sue HP?

    I think Apple gave Palm a pass on infringing on Apple's IP because they didn't see Palm as a real threat. Better to let them fail on their own. But now that a company with the market power of HP own's Palm will Apple sit by and allow them to use their GUI and multi touch patents?

    Doesn't this also show that HP knows their tablet push using Windows is a dead end? Palm's web os is a much better bet for them.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Perfect Sense

    Len says
    > Who knew that HP would be just as schizophrenic post-Carly as it was under her reign?

    It makes perfect sense. HP had no commitment to any mobile platform, and had been very weak in that area. HP now realizes that the mobile platform is important, but has little presence. The iPaq phones are out of date, and there is nothing in HP's pipeline.

    By buying Palm, HP has two already approved FCC phones they can start selling. With HP's marketing abilities and money, HP has the ability to get those two phones moving. It also gets WebOS which can easily be put onto HP's upcoming Slate tablet.

    Remember that slate tablet? The one Microsoft was so proud to show off? HP hasn't released it because it isn't convinced that it will sell with Windows 7 on it. Windows 7 is a good desktop platform, but isn't designed for the sub-desktop market. It has touch controls, but it isn't optimized for touch, and presents too much administrative detritus for a tablet computer.

    HP is going with WebOS as their mobile platform. They may sell Windows 7 as an option for certain mobile platforms, but HP won't be pushing it.

  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You make good points, but I still mean what I said about the schizophrenic move.

    Look, when HP bought Compaq under Carly, they kept all the c*** that they already overlapped on, while spinning off the stuff that would have actually expanded their breadth. In the mobile space, they kept the Jornada alive while also selling the iPaq. It should be noted that both of these were also-rans against Palm at the time.

    Now, adding to their dilapidated and near-abandoned mobile strategy, they buy Palm, who now is in a distant also-ran position. It's like they can't help themselves. Buy an also-ran and see if that makes it automagically a best seller. That didn't work before and there is no reason to think that it will work now.

    The only way that they can turn Palm around and extract what they paid for it, is to develop a brand-new class of device. Who knows, maybe it's a WebOS front panel on their printers, or move the OS into instrumentation or medical devices like they spun off with Agilent and Philips Medical. Right now, they have the developer inertia that BeOS had, and that isn't enough.

    Where WebOS once had promise, the buzz has been squandered by amazing ineptitude on Palm's part. HP buying them will not fix this situation, it only buys a little more time until they fade onto the shelf to join the Jornadas and iPaqs of yesteryear.

    -- Len

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