Palm Plans Future Devices Despite HP Bid, Developer Says

A Palm developer reportedly says the company, despite being acquired by HP, has a road map in place and is working on future mobile devices and a new version of WebOS.

Before Hewlett-Packard made its $1.2 billion bid in April for Palm, the troubled mobile phone company's top executives were trying to keep morale high and devices moving off store shelves with upbeat comments about their product road map.
At one point, Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein optimistically said Palm was "making great progress on future products."
With HP's acquisition process under way (the Federal Trade Commission approved the purchase June 1) and HP executives having commented that their focus was Palm's WebOS platform rather than its smartphones, new siblings for the Palm Pre and Pixi seemed unlikely. However, during a developer Web seminar in mid-June, a comment by a member of Palm's developer relations team indicated otherwise.
"I'm not allowed to talk about future road maps, especially because we're in the process of being acquired by HP, so I can't say," said Josh Marinacci, according to the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blog. "But, yes, we have a road map. We are working on future devices. And a new version of the OS. So I think you're going to find the next year very exciting."
The news didn't come as a surprise to everyone, though.
"I certainly expected, when the acquisition was announced, that Palm would continue to make devices that would be integrated into its road map. That's why I was surprised several weeks ago to hear comments from HP executives that said the acquisition was entirely about acquiring WebOS for connected devices like printers and other Internet appliances," Technology Business Research analyst Ken Hyers told eWEEK. "I completely agree that WebOS offers enormous advantages for creating connected appliances, but I believe that there are significant opportunities on smartphones and tablets where HP can leverage Palm expertise to improve their existing device product line."
Hyers added that HP should be more publicly clear about what its intentions are regarding Palm, and what technologies it's committed to.
"Beyond the existing software and patent portfolio, Palm has a large share of human capital in the form of engineers and developers for smartphone devices that it needs to retain if it intends to leverage the acquisition for smartphone and tablet development," he said.
Analyst Roger Kay, with Endpoint Technologies, also put an emphasis on Palm's employees.
"I'm not sure a member of the development team is really in a position to articulate corporate strategy," Kay told eWEEK. "Pretty clearly, the company has to do something in the interim period between the announcement and consummation of the deal, but at this point, only the CEO or the HP management team would be qualified to speak authoritatively about product road maps."
Kay added, "While everyone waits, [Palm] continues to work on existing product plans."