Hewlett-Packard moved a step closer to officially owning smartphone maker Palm on June 1, when the Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition, granting the early termination of a waiting period imposed by a 1976 antitrust act.
“The proposed merger remains subject to other customary closing conditions, including the approval of Palm’s stockholders,” stated a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The stockholders have scheduled a special meeting for Friday, June 25, to vote on the proposed merger.
HP announced its intent to purchase Palm for $1.2 billion on April 28. While the maker of the Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones, as well as the roundly praised WebOS platform, had been financially struggling for some time, a proxy statement Palm filed with SEC showed that 16 companies expressed interest in Palm before HP, after a bidding war with just a handful of unnamed companies, won with a proposal of $4.75 in cash for each share of Palm.
While the Palm acquisition could enable HP to rejoin the smartphone market, Palm’s WebOS is expected to also benefit the PC maker as it looks to compete against Apple in the rejuvenated tablet arena.
“We anticipate that with the WebOS we’ll be able to aggressively deploy an integrated platform that will allow HP to own the entire customer experience, to nurture and grow the developer community, and provide a rich media experience for our customers,” HP Executive Vice President Todd Bradley said in an April 28 statement.
While HP has reportedly confirmed that it will still release its Slate tablet, which runs a Microsoft operating system, later in 2010, it’s rumored to also be working on a tablet called the HP Hurricane, which would run WebOS and could be available as soon as the third quarter of 2010.
Analysts such as IMS Research’s Chris Schreck have suggested that the open-source WebOS could enable HP’s tablet to better compete against not just the iPad but the considerable number of devices currently in the works, several of which are expected to run Google’s Android operating system.
“[WebOS] uses standard development languages already common among PC developers,” Schreck said in a May 3 report. “If HP can create a compelling tablet offering that people are willing to buy, the barriers to entry might be fairly minimal.”