Toward the end week, HP made some major moves. First, they bought Palm for 1.2 Billion. HP then mentioned that the Slate tablet will be put on hiatus (first thought cancelled). Now there are reports that a “Web OS” will most likely be put on the Slate. Wait a minute – wouldn’t that be “Palm”?
Of course, earlier in the week, we heard that Palm OS was purchased by HP for 1.2 billion. While some say it cost too much, there may be some good reasons why it happened this way. One big reason: HP might have been in a bidding war. Still, Palm OS could become the mobile OS HP has been looking for and that 1.2 billion might net them 20 times that amount.
HP Owns 20th Century PDA
I know that doesn’t like much, but think of it this way – HP Jornada, Compaq iPaq, Handspring Visor, Palm OS. That is what HP owns now. The only early PDA assets HP doesn’t own is those from Apple (Newton), Casio (Cassiopeia), Sony (Clie) or RIM (Blackberry) – Casio ended their PDA run and Sony changed focus to mobile gaming. So HP now has the majority of technology for early PDA and the patents within. While this won’t be a shield to any patent infringement lawsuit, one would definitely need a good iron clad case for legal action.
We are entering into the “Keyboardless” era – where you don’t need any peripheral attached to use a machine. iPad shows we can have a decent computing experience without keyboard or mouse. iPad also feels that you don’t need to connect USB devices, so they left all those items off their tablet.
In the meantime, what was first thought as full cancellation, turned out to be more of a “restart” for the Slate tablet. Windows is out, that is for sure. The obvious reality was that Palm OS is in. A good move for HP, but why not have 2 versions?
An engineer at HP was overheard saying Windows 7 was a powerhog. That may be true, nonetheless, are people going to see Palm OS as a good alternative OS? I suppose only time will tell.
Palm’s future: Where else will we see the OS?
With the idea that iPad runs a mobile OS, some are starting to realize the versatility. One OS for your phone, tablet, TV, car, etc.
Last month I went out to HP to talk about Converged infrastructure. In layman’s terms: a fancy way to say “Server administration”. The idea that you can set up a server room and have anyone administer from anywhere on the planet. However, as I was interviewing presenters, one mentioned something I hadn’t thought about:
… there is no good way to administer a printer….
Most printer problems require physical attention: replace a cartridge, fix a paper jam, etc. But beyond the web page administration of a printer, there has not been much innovation to printer OS technology. What if something like Palm OS was ported to a printer?
Let’s take another approach. HP has another OS called HP-UX; It’s their Unix solution. In a “Converged Infrastructure” world, connecting to servers like the HP-UX is important. So why not have a moble OS solution that can really integrate with this idea?
Consumer Level OS
HP has really pushed their lines of consumer products in the last couple years. From netbooks to touchscreen machines, they have brought a lot of innovation to the machine. But they still rely on other Operating systems to really power the experience.
With a mobile OS solution, they can bring an experience to all these devices, some with option to have both on the computer. If you need Windows or just a device that can access the internet to make a Skype call or send an email.
So there are a lot of places Palm could become integrated. Items that HP could have implemented already with other Operating Systems, but they would still be other companies OS’s. This Palm acquisition can give the mobility HP is looking for in more than one way. That, might be worth the 1.2 billion.