In our recent profile of Palm WebOS, as we compared our favorite OS to Palm’s offering, we couldn’t help but notice a lot of similarities. More than that, there seem to be a lot of complementary features to the two OS’s; where one is weak, the other is strong.
One area where Palm is weak is financially. Trading closed on Palm at just a hair over $4 on Friday, and is likely to go down even more this week. Google, of course, is just as solvent as ever.
Financially speaking, Google buying Palm could amount to Google spending as little as 2% of their cash reserves. Imagine the financial impact of your last set of tires, or the initial purchase of your last smartphone. That’s about it.
Technologically speaking, the acquisition of Google would mean a huge boon in Intellectual Property. If nothing else came of it, Google would be free to essentially rip off Palm’s interface, gestures, and multitasking interface, even if they didn’t actually use any code, talent, or resources from Palm to do it.
Another piece of the IP pie is Palm’s patent portfolio. If you look here at a post from last year, you’ll see a discussion of just four of Palm’s patents as they relate to Apple’s iPhone functionality. While the patents are somewhat technical and minor, Apple’s allegations toward HTC are equally arcane. Palm has been in the handheld business much longer than most (what was Google doing in 1996?), and has literally hundreds of patents related to that type of technology, a veritable ammo stockpile for the coming fight between Google and Apple.
But there are lingering questions about what Google realistically could do with Palm if they bought them. They would be buying a massive inventory of unsold phones. What would they do with them? Logic dictates that they would have to keep Palm alive as a company long enough to get rid of the inventory.
Support becomes an issue as well. Google doesn’t exactly have a hot track record here. But there are a lot of Oreos and Pixies out there, meaning that Palm will have to exist at least until the warranty is up on those devices.
Google could go the other way with it, too. They could take the aesthetic of the Pre, size it up to modern phone size and specs, put a WebOS-ified Android 2.5 on it, get HTC to build it with good QC, and have a Nexus Two that would bring Palm users into the fold.
What do you think? Would buying Palm distract and slow down Google’s progress with Android, or, would it only make Google stronger? Let us know in the comments!
[lead picture features a figurine from Dyzplastic’s great Android toy lineup. Go here to find out where you can buy one.]
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