So the big shocking news (or non-shocker, depending on your view) is that Palm is making itself available for sale. It's a little too early in the game to jump to wild conclusions but Bloomberg sources say that HTC and Lenovo are both in the mix to make a bid to buy Palm. And though Lenovo has some Android ties, no company has backed Android like HTC. HTC buying Palm would be epically huge in this smartphone world of ours. Epic. -ally. Huge

Think about it. HTC produces stellar hardware for both Android and Windows Mobile. Some could say that HTC is half the reason why Android is so successful and why Windows Mobile is still alive. If HTC suddenly bought Palm, would HTC start building webOS devices as well? Or would they stop manufacturing devices for Android and Windows Mobile and go strictly webOS? Or would nothing happen, and HTC simply let Palm stay Palm and just continue to build for Android and Windows Mobile? There are questions abound and the ramifications would be huge because half of the players in the smartphone space are involved (other half being: Apple, RIM, and Nokia).

And we're not familiar with patent law, but could HTC buy Palm and use Palm's library of patents against Apple in Apple's lawsuit? Ammo for a potential don't sue me because I can sue the pants off you type move? But if Palm's patents are that valuable, wouldn't everyone be interested? There's so many more questions to ask that we can't wait to see this thing develop. The smartphone world as we know it is going to change.

So, would HTC really buy Palm?

[precentral

 
There are 7 comments

I sincerely doubt it would happen, but imagine if HTC bought Palm and then made webOS Open Source, integrating it with Android OS in part or in full - that'd be some SERIOUS competition for competing smartphone operating systems to fight against!

More likely however, I think HTC would keep webOS as a stand-alone operating system, to be sold on their devices exclusively...

I'm thinking if HTC really wants to stop Apple's ambitions, then it's imperative that HTC gobble up Palm purely as defensive move. With Palm's patents, Apple has no case with HTC's existing patents & prior art. More importantly, HTC can use Palm's existing facilities & web OS to create their own version of an OS overlay to Android. An open source version of webOS might actually play well with developers. Or HTC could sell webOS to Apple as leverage in a cross licencing deal to end the lawsuit. However, perhaps sell webOS to Microsoft or Google as a warning to Apple, that they'll hand a better OS scheme to Apple's greatest enemies. Selling webOS by screwing Apple over & gain tremendous amount of capital to fight Apple's lawsuit all the way for years to come. I really do hope that Palm is gobbled up by HTC or Google as a defensive move.

rvinny says:

RIM is the one who needs to buy Palm

tkfox007 says:

I agree that HTC should buy palm as a defensive maneuver. I don't think they would be able to use palm's patents against Apple, since buying palm happened after that lawsuit was filed. But the patents could be used in a later lawsuit against Apple however.

I think that if they integrated webOS into Android it would be amazing, maybe do away with Sense UI and just make webOS the overlay instead.

But what might happen is, HTC buys palm but keeps them as a subsidiary.

dwhitman says:

"I don't think they would be able to use palm's patents against Apple, since buying palm happened after that lawsuit was filed."

Whether or not HTC had Palm's patents, or when it got them relative to the time Apple's suit was filed would have no bearing whatsoever on how a case would be settled in court. The Apple patents are either valid or not and HTC is either infringing them or not, both to be determined by the court. In these decisions, the court isn't going to look at the Palm patents at all. (Unless HTC cites one or more as prior art in support of a claim of invalidity on Apple patents, and they wouldn't need to own the Palm stuff to do that).

HTC owning Palm's patents would have EVERYTHING to do with whether Apple's suit ever got to court in the first place, because HTC could threaten to sue Apple for infringement of Palm's stuff. The two companies would then almost certainly come to an out-of-court understanding/settlement where they agree not to sue each other.

crcr says:

It seems to me that if Palm's patents would potentially be so valuable to HTC, then crApple would gobble up Palm as a defensive move. After all, crApple is sitting on someathing like $40 billion in cash reserves.

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Here are the reasons this makes sense:
1. It will most likely be a fire sale for software intellectual capital (WebOS), and *the patent portfolio*. WebOS is a VERY NICE user interface, and is ahead in the game arena. To be able to gain the much more intuitive interface and simply merge it into Android/senseUI would be welcome. I love flicking cards away to close apps, no need for a task killer.
2. What we used to simply call "seats" in the CAD/CAM market. You buy the user base (for cheap) of a dying product line to largely own them and merge them into your existing product set, where you products now include the key features of the company you bought; read: instant market share increase - as long as you build a coherent path to keep the user base in the fold.

I think it's a shame Palm didn't get WebOS out a year to 6 months earlier, but timing is everything, and they were just coming up to the starting gate after the rest of the horses had already been released. Most of us that objectively have followed and hoped for a killer product have seen this coming. WebOS is an out of the park home run, but the hardware was trouble-prone, and the strategy to give Sprint the length of exclusivity was a MAJOR blunder. If they'd have come out on AT&T and/or Verizon before the Droid, they'd have had a happy ending, even with the buggy hardware. Alas, it was not to be.
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