Palm Gets New Chance to Shine in Mobile World

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-07-02 Print this article Print

But wait, as they say in television infomercials, there's more. Palm has already said it will continue developing smartphones using WebOS. The company has had some success with its existing devices. Some money for development and access to far larger markets could allow the company to take advantage of the device market it pioneered with the legendary Palm Pilot.

Remember, it was Palm that first brought you the touch-sensitive full-screen device that worked as an e-mail platform, organizer and Web browser. Those Palm devices-the latest being the Palm TX-aren't being sold by Palm any longer. But the technology still exists and it's a safe bet that it could play a role in developing a touch-screen tablet and phone that could compete with the iPhone and Android devices out there.

Equally importantly, the Palm devices have a large number of applications and their own application store, just as there were thousands of apps available for the Palm Pilot before it was discontinued. The HP and Palm teams could become a real force in the mobile device market, but, of course, a great deal depends on whether these companies can merge in such a way that they can take advantage of their respective talents and assets.

And, of course, everything depends on whether the now merged companies can pull it off. HP has to be willing to accommodate Palm's corporate culture, keep its engineers and developers happy, and provide them with the resources they've always needed and never had. Palm, meanwhile, has to learn that its only hope for survival was to be acquired by some other, larger, company. If it had to pick one that would give Palm the freedom to develop something really good, it would have been hard to pick a better partner than HP.

But saying that and seeing it happen are two different things. HP still faces many obstacles involved in its acquisition of Palm before anyone starts seeing results that matter. Palm's people have to learn to work within HP's corporate structure so that they can effectively utilize the company's vast resources. There is huge potential here, but right now that's all it is. Perhaps, if everything works, we'll see a new reality in the mobile device market in a few months. That would be a nice change.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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