Thursday, March 5, 2009

Radical proposal / The quieted "Quadra"

Apple should use a tiny fraction of its cash to buy Palm. For just under $800m (of a reported $35b), Palm is extremely cheap. What to do after a purchase is also a quandary.

Acquiring Palm makes sense for a number of reasons. Patents are great to have, and Palm is one of the earliest movers in the handheld computer industry. Lawsuits are already flying over the Pre's iPhone-alike gestures after all, surely Palm's intellectual property hoard is being undervalued. Not relevant to handheld IP, but remember that Palm bought Be Inc. a while back too, representing another relevant pile of research and patents. On a potentially sappy note, reuniting Apple with Jon Rubenstein, who managed to get shambling, desiccated Palm to produce the Treo Pro and Pre, would be a positive, if he is amenable to a return. Finally, taking over Palm eliminates any possibility of the wily competitor producing a really unpleasant surprise.

Apple could go a few different ways with Palm post-acquisition.

They could invest in Palm but leave it separate, producing phones for non-AT&T networks. (Is that eventuality is covered in the exclusivity agreement?) This is obviously unlikely. In some ways a sustaining infusion of cash, and perhaps software (OS X iPhone "licensing" allows for platform diversification without hurting the brand or lessening platform control) mirrors Microsoft's earlier move when Jobs returned, though on a grander scale.

Apple could shut Palm down, unwind its operations, and absorb the best parts of its personnel and technology.

Apple could allow Palm to operate independently for the most part, like FileMaker, and when it went bankrupt as it is on track to do, unwind it in court.

(Jobs is still angry about being under 3Ghz all these years and paradigm shifts later.)

The quieted Quadra

All new Mac desktops
revamped in secret, revealed
in silence by release

The days of Quadras
or the fx blowing the
doors off are long gone.

Where is my midrange
quad-core desktop? You know which...
fit under the screen

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