Monday, December 18, 2006

About Palm and buying back your own OS

I have tried to analyze the last move from Palm for a few days and I have found it an interesting challenge...

The story is quite complex, if you are not a Palm follower. Palm spun off PalmSource (their operating system) some time ago and launched a Treo with Windows Mobile. Then Access bought PalmSource for
$324 million and pushed it even further towards Mobile Linux. Now Palm is paying Access $44 million for the license of Palm OS Garnet (the old version 5, the one that was supposed to be a transition to the version 6 that never saw the light of day, nothing to do with Mobile Linux).

So... You own an OS that everybody loves. You throw it into a separate company. You embrace a different OS that everybody hates (but you still launch a lot of devices on Palm OS, like the recently announced 680). Now you buy back an OS that is pretty much dead...

It sounds stupid, however:
  1. $44M is a steal if you look at the $324M Access paid for PalmSource (THAT was crazy)
  2. It protects your investment on the Palm OS Treo (650 and 680) and buys you time to move to a full Mobile Linux (which is a must to survive)
  3. It puts you in a better position to negotiate with evil Microsoft if you are thinking to add another Windows Mobile device (please don't ;-)
Overall, I personally believe it was a smart move from Palm. However, the more I look at this and the more I am getting convinced that the need to get rid of Access means something: they can't work together. Therefore, I am ready to bet that Palm will announce a Mobile Linux device in the near future BUT it won't be based on ALP, the Access Linux Platform.

That's quite interesting. I look forward to seeing where they go with this...