Sunday, March 04, 2007

Who is going to buy Palm?

As you might have noticed, Palm stock is going up like crazy. That means someone is about to buy it (or the market has gone nuts, which is usually not the case).

A few months ago, I wrote a post about The Palm Opportunity, just after Motorola bought Good. My humble suggestion to Palm was: move fast, embrace open source and open standards, focus on mobile and moving data over the air. I added "
Stay the course, support Microsoft and proprietary approaches and you'll be another Symbol, bought by a silo". Honestly, I can't say I have seen any particular move by Palm since then, apart from buying back its own proprietary OS... They definitely stayed the course. They are going to be bought.

Now, how is going to buy Palm? I have no clue, but let me put some candidates in order.

1. Motorola: they bought Symbol and Good. Good's preferred platform is Palm. The Q is not enough for an enterprise play on mobile email and it is a lock-in with the devil. It is a nobrainer.
2. Nokia: they bought Intellisync (and the rumors say the acquisition is not working too well) for an enterprise play. They came out with the E61. They clearly need to be more present in the US. Palm is the best enterprise play. Another no brainer.
3. HP: they are moving actively in the enterprise. They bought Bitfone in December for that (so... HP is powered by Funambol now, like Computer Associates ;-) Their iPaq business is not enough and they just announced a more phone-like device. Buying Palm would be a smart move.
4. Dell: as above, if they really want to get into mobile, Palm is an easy way to do it.
5. Sony: they were behind Palm and Palm OS for a while. Why not?
6. RIM: ok, I am pushing it a bit far, but that would be a nice way to kill a competitor that has been way more successful in the consumer and prosumer market, and learn something.
7. Sony Ericsson: hey, everybody is going enterprise, a good herd mentality would push them to Palm (let me add LG and Samsung in the same category, then).
8. Apple: what? Nonsense. They have the iPhone coming out and they feel they are better than anybody on the planet. Palm is the past...
9. Some private equity fund with a lot of money, but I just do not see it happen: too many companies in this list.
10. Funambol: man, that would be cool. We would turn it around and make it a full open source company from software to hardware. If you have 2 billions to lend me, you know where to find me :-)

In any case, they are about to go. It is sad because Palm has been made history in this space. They lost it recently and this is not a market where you can miss one big and recover. It moves too fast. Long life to Palm.