For sale: Slightly used, slightly abused, completely iconic mobile phone brand. Real fixer-upper, tons of potential.
Yes, in a move that has been suspected by fans of the brand for some time now, Palm has put itself up for acquisition. The move comes after recent sales numbers for Palm’s Pixi and Pre units disappointed already low expectations, making the company’s independent survival all but impossible. Existing mobile brands HTC and Lenovo are rumored to be interested. Some question the wisdom of HTC buying the brand, as Palm’s operating system, WebOS, would clash with HTC’s Android system.
But Lenovo? A purchase by Lenovo might be the perfect brand-building fit.
In terms of iconic technology from the late 1990s, the Palm “Pilot” rates quite high. Following the Pilot model, Palm released a range of characteristic devices that never managed to turn the corner and explode in the market other than in Real Estate – where it was the phone of choice because of the Lockbox opener.
Yet, those who loved the m100, Tungsten, Treo and Centro swore by Palm. Additionally, there was an indie feel to Palm; it was the little brand that could, fighting the good fights against the monster electronics brands such as Motorola. Palm stayed true to its brand in the latest post-iPhone era of touch-screen smart-phone with its Pre model. The Pre was very well received, called “simply amazing” by popular tech blog Gizmodo.
Due to pricing, ad tone and a number of other mistimed moves, Palm well underperformed expectations. Lacking users, the brand couldn’t attract app developers and no apps meant, in turn, fewer users: a vicious cycle. Today it owns a paltry 4.3 percent of the US market. All this brings us to Lenovo’s prime opportunity to integrate Palm and mount some level of competition with other computer brands, especially Apple.
At first look, Lenovo looks like a perfect fit for Palm. By acquiring Palm, Lenovo the consumer computer division sold off from IBM could build itself out as a full spectrum electronics brand. Lenovo would have a marquee phone product to match its top-end ThinkPad computer line. Just like Apple. It is a move that Dell has toyed with for the very same reason ever since the release of the iPhone. Additionally, Lenovo would have the deep pockets to devote to a proper brand-building effort, something Palm has always lacked.
Whether it’s Lenovo or another brand, many are hopeful that Palm will find a white knight and its latest products will finally get a fair shot at proving its worth.