There is certainly a lot of excitement going around since last week’s announcement that HP would be acquiring Palm. Once all of the legal logistics are worked out, the potential for some great new devices and concepts are limitless with HP’s resources and Palm’s innovative culture. Whether the two entities realize this potential, only time will tell, as organizational, developmental and stylistic obstacles will necessarily come with the combination of a large mainstream corporation and a small quirky one.
Regardless of what the future holds, today’s reality is that the joining of HP and Palm has vast benefits for both companies and extraordinary promise for us as consumers. As for Palm, the benefits may be more obvious due to Palm’s current financial situation and inability to secure its rightful niche in the fiercely competitive smartphone market. Despite Palm’s recent efforts in establishing a new ad campaign, drastically dropping prices, and offering free mobile HotSpot service on Verizon and even free accessories to some lucky customers, Palm’s maneuvers have not equated to sales and increased market share. Needless to say, Palm’s ship was sinking and it was sinking fast. Now however, with HP and its immense resources on Palm’s side, Palm has an instant new lease on life (Palm and HP, of course, still needs to work out their business, development and marketing strategies to make this boost of cash flow and support translate into sales and market share).
Along with deep pockets, HP also brings a certain know-how that Palm has lacked. While technology reviewers and experts alike have lauded the innovation of webOS since day one, webOS never translated with consumers on the scale that it should have. There was a clear disconnect, which I discussed last week as being the result of poor marketing strategy, retail inventory and salesperson training. Regardless of what you think about HP as a company and brand, there is one thing that is certain - HP’s strong suit is marketing, distribution and generating a consumer base that gets bigger by the day. Plain and simple, HP knows how to relate to and attract consumers, and this is exactly the know-how that Palm is in dire need of.
But let’s not forget about HP, which stands to gain just as significantly by acquiring Palm. Not only is webOS an exceptional operating system with great potential in the right hands, but also the mobile market is a hot and hugely important technology sector that HP has yet to successfully sink its teeth into. If there is one piece of technology that we are all most likely to have on our person at any (and in all reality, probably every) given moment, it is a cell phone. We all rely on and utilize a cell phone at least some point in the day and for many of us, all day. With cell phones and mobile devices in general being such a considerable consumer market and given the computer maker's less than stellar attempts to break in, if HP wants to continue to evolve and grow its technological empire, HP needs Palm as much as Palm needs it.
At this point, things are still very uncertain for what a HP-Palm union means and will entail. The two companies still need to work through the logistics of and actual finalize the acquisition, and then they must actually work together in a cohesive manner so as to bring to life all of the possibilities that we are anxiously awaiting. In the meantime, I think some sound advice for both HP and Palm would be to forget about playing catch up. The heavy hitters like iPhone and Android are on a nonstop freight train, blowing forward into tomorrow. If HP and Palm just want to catch up, they are not only going to fail, but also they are going to fall into the same predicament that Palm is currently facing. Palm, with the support of HP, needs to now focus on paving its own, new way forward in order to really compete. Playing catch up only puts one in a constant position of being behind - and in technology, being even a nanosecond behind is as good as defeat.