Palm Fans Applaud News of HP Buyout

To many, HP's move signals the end of its reliance on the older Windows Mobile device operating system, and throws into doubt whether HP will embrace the recently unveiled Windows Phone 7, a radical redesign of Microsoft's mobile user interface.

"Brilliant 'rook across the chessboard' move," writes CRreymarc at PalmInfoCenter. "Windows Mobile is lacking and HP wants into smartphones big. With the webOS they have a lot more control over their OS than from Redmond."

But many also expressed a range of concerns over the acquisition.

LiveFaith, as PalmInfoCenter, worried about whether "Palm [will] now become the next Compaq. Will HP work the same magic on the Pre that they did on the mighty iPaq? Please ... may it never be. I hope they learned from the last destruction of IP [intellectual property]."

Another blogger, at PreCentral, expressed hope that HP's improved hardware quality will help the Palm line: "That is something WebOS desperately needs," writes qitupx.

On the same thread, Vaipa expressed concern that "HP might interfere too much and Palm might lose their small company responsiveness and drive….Will Palm be able to retain their Silicon Valley startup feel?) and/or HP might lose interest or have conflicted interests (HP did let their iPaq line rot and they do have a strong partnership with Microsoft so they could sell out webOS in mobile if their PC business interests were at risk)."

DavidVogt wrote on PreCentral that "As a premature migrant from the HP Ipaq 910 to the pre (I had my Ipaq 910 replaced 10 times under warranty before managing to get a refund -- which wouldn't have happened except I knew someone "high up" in HP) I sure as hell hope that a) Palm is allowed to continue its customer support and not have it absorbed into HP's bare into the bones incredibly poor customer support b) that those that complain about Palm's hardware will not be further disgusted by HP's hardware quality… However, knowing what [HP CEO] Mark Hurd's priorities are (buy, integrate, cut, cut and more cut), I do not have much confidence."

Some think Palm is doomed; they just disagree about how quickly it will expire. At the "Don't pop the champagne just yet" thread on the PreCentral forums, sinsin07, alluding to the fate of computer maker Compaq after it was acquired by HP, writes, "I worked on tons of Compaq machines. Was sad to see them gobbled up by HP. I give Palm two years and then it will be just a footnote in history." Another, bmatlosz, is even bleaker: "I think that's generous.... I say less than a year, six months."

Another poster, who identified himself as a former HP employee in the post-Compaq period, says in the same thread that those perceptions are out of date. "I used to work for HP during the Compaq acquisition by Carly [Fiorina, HP's CEO from 1999-05]," writes navinag. "I truly believe that Mark Hurd has turned that company around and has genuine intentions of getting back into the mobile space and being competitive….HP definitely has the capability and pockets to support Palm and webos will be a differentiator in the market for HP. Now...it is about execution and the existing Palm team staying focused."

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Blog RSS feed.

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