HP to buy Palm for $1.2 Billion

Computer giant buys smartphone innovator

HP's announcement this week that it has agreed to purchase Palm for $5.70 per share is surprising news not just for computer geeks, but for anyone who uses camera phones. But it makes sense. HP has lusted after the smart phone market, and The Palm Pre is one of the most popular of the breed. But more than spacific smart phones, I believe HP needed an infusion of innovators (not that they have any shortage) in the portable device space.

And let's face it: Despite its recent financial woes, Palm practically invented the handheld device revolution. Wasn't it just a dozen years ago that everybody was zapping phone lists and other stuff to each other from their Palm Pilots? (Yes, these are the same people who stand on line to get the latest iPhone.) I remember a Photo Plus Expo in the late 90s where it seemed everyone was walking around with a Palm.

Then cell phones hit, and Palm reinvented itself into a smart phone company. The Palm Pre is a worthy competitor to the Blackberry.

Meanwhile, at computer giant HP, the company recently quietly re-entered the photography world, introducing a modest line of point-and-shoot cameras earlir this year at PMA. While they seemed like no-frills "me-to" type cameras, they represented the company's tentative first steps back into the consumer snapshot camera market—and their first attempt at HD digital video in a still camera.

So, where's the synergy here? (Sorry to use that tired old tech catchphrase!) While I'm sure HP and Palm will explore many areas (such as Palm OS's multitasking abilities, an area where they've got the iPhone beat, at least until early June), one of them, I'm sure, will be camera phones. Yes the Pre has one, and as camera phones go it's not terrible (although it still doesn't hold a candle to even the most basic stand-alone camera). There may be room to explore and improve that feature.

Should Apple, the category leader in smart phones, be worried about the HP/Palm acquisition? Not yet; besides, they've got enough to contend with. Can anyone say "Google Smart Phone?"


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