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Lenovo considering purchase

Palm is having a very hard time in the smartphone market both in the U.S. and abroad. The company is seeing its profits drop and its handsets are failing to sell in the numbers that the company and analysts expect. 

The poor sales of its handsets have led the company to step back and look at what it needs to do to ensure profitability and the survival of what was once one of the most popular brands in the industry. Palm is considering all options, including selling the company. Palm reportedly started looking for a buyer earlier this month. One of the early firms that were looking into acquiring Palm was rival smartphone maker HTC.

HTC has passed on the deal after looking at Palm's books. The most likely remaining candidate for the purchase is computer maker Lenovo. Lenovo has a line of handsets that it sells in its home Chinese market, but the Lenovo handset line has no foothold in the U.S. market.

Analyst Lu Chialin from Macquarie Securities in Taipei said, "A most suitable candidate will be a mainland Chinese company. They've got a lot more free cash and don't have the brand presence in the United States, so that will all give them that boost they need."

Reuters reports that its sources in investment banking have confirmed that Lenovo is considering a bid for Palm, but offered no specifics. Lenovo has offered no official statements on its intent to make a bid for Palm, but its stock has risen on the rumor of purchase.

Lenovo is reported to have the cash on hand it would need to purchase Palm if it chooses – at the end of 2009, Lenovo had $2.4 billion in cash. Palm is reportedly looking for about $1.3 billion from suitors. While the possibility of an outright sale is on the table at Palm, the company also has other plans. One of the possibilities would be to license its webOS to other companies to use on their smartphones. 

Palm may also simply choose to continue as an independent company. 
Financial Times reports that Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein believes that Palm can continue and survive. Rubinstein says he is "bullish" on the long-term prospects of Palm. He stated, "I believe Palm can survive as an independent company. We have a plan that gets us to profitability."

The 
FT reports that Rubinstein points out that Palm had $592 million gross cash position at the end of Q3. It would take almost all of that money to get palm through until it can return to profitability. Analysts believe that Palm won’t reach break-even until May of 2012 and by that point it will have spent $534 million of its cash reserves.

Palm is working on a new generation of handsets that it hopes will fare better on the market than its current Pre and Pixi devices. Rubinstein said, "[Palm is working] fast and furious on new handsets." Analysts at RBC Capital markets told the FT that Palm could receive bids as high as $2 to $3 billion considering it has a market cap of $820 million.



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Locked to a carrier...
By stirfry213 on 4/23/2010 9:56:14 AM , Rating: 5
Does anyone else feel what is stifling companies like this and not allowing all of the people to enjoy their products is the deals they make with the carriers? I don't like Apple, but imagine how many more iPhones would see sell if they weren't locked into AT&T only? This just doesn't seem to be a healthy practice and it doesn't benefit the consumer either.

I want to choose my phone AND my carrier, not just one or the other!




RE: Locked to a carrier...
By MrFord on 4/23/2010 11:29:12 AM , Rating: 3
You do bring a valid point. However, if everybody had to pay retail price for their devices, you would probably see a much sharper decline in sales than when they are subsidized.

I'm sure a Pre wouldn't retail for $600, but even at around $350-$400, that's a good amount over the $50 or even $150 as originally sold for.

The main problem is that the plans don't get any cheaper even if you own the phone outright, and most of the time, you have to sign a 2-years contract anyway. But that's how wireless providers have been doing business for a long time, and they got people to thing that this is the normal way to do. Same as having to pay for incoming calls (as in deducted from your monthly allowance): it would be odd to start doing the same on a land line, yet we accept that it is normal on a cellphone.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By Anoxanmore on 4/23/2010 12:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair bandwidth used to be quite limited for cell phones back in the days of the suitcase, bagphone, brickphone.

Although it makes little sense now.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By bissimo on 4/23/2010 12:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
I lived in Europe for years and never spent more than $20 a month or so on my cell phone. The whole system works differently out there and Vodafone, Movistar and others seem to be very profitable.

Everyone buys pre-paid phone cards. There are no per-day fees and no fees for accepting incoming calls. I'm sure it's a little more complicated for web access, but I bet few people pay what we pay here. The phones are not subsidized, but if you're only paying $20 a month, have no contract and only pay for the minutes you use, it still costs less.

It all looks like a big conspiracy to me. How is it that Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all have almost the exact same pricing? What kind of competition is this?


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By AssBall on 4/23/2010 8:03:02 PM , Rating: 1
I don't doubt that about Europe at all.

One thing to keep in mind is that US carriers have had a different environment to work with. There is the geographical/geophysical part: they have to spend a boatload more here on setting up coverage, maintaining that coverage, and upgrading it. I bet another fair chunk of their costs are caused by the queer amount of lawyering they require to keep in line and lobby with the FTC and compete with eachother.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By eddieroolz on 4/25/2010 9:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
In addition to Europe, Hong Kong is also another market which requires the handsets be unlocked upon purchase. Their mobile market also seems to be doing fine, with plenty of competition and decent rates.

It's a far cry from what I pay here with Rogers; $45 a month for just 250 text, 150 min anytime minutes and network calling. Hell, $8 goes for just Caller ID...it has to be a conspiracy, no feature is worth $8 just by itself.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By niaaa on 4/26/2010 8:49:59 AM , Rating: 2
I pay 5€ for 500mb data plan :P


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By Chocobollz on 4/26/2010 11:51:47 AM , Rating: 2
Wow that is very cheap! And here I pay €12.5/mo for an unlimited 3.1 Mbps EVDO rev.A connection (capped at 1 TB/mo) ^^v


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By stirfry213 on 4/23/2010 12:40:19 PM , Rating: 3
Oh, I don't have an issue with offering the phone at X dollars if you buy a 2 year plan. I do think we are getting the shaft when they charge the same price for a plan even if they are not subsidizing a phone.

I just wish phones weren't locked to a carrier. Maybe I want a Palm Pre, but don't care for T Mobile, or they don't have service where I spend most my time.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By cfaalm on 4/23/2010 1:57:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I just wish phones weren't locked to a carrier. Maybe I want a Palm Pre, but don't care for T Mobile, or they don't have service where I spend most my time.


Exactly. And also if they sell the phone (prepaid or contract) they should support it properly on their network. I had my Motorolla MPX220 with Vodafone and they only supported the 200. MMS just wouldn't work. Now with the HTC Legend it's much better.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By soloman02 on 4/23/2010 1:00:02 PM , Rating: 1
When at&t and Verizon get LTE fully deployed (late 2011 at the earliest, more likely mid/late 2012), locking phones to a specific carrier will mostly be gone. Phones that use LTE will work on at&t or Verizon's network. Sprint is using WIMAX which is different from LTE so Sprint phones will not work on Verizon or at&t and vice-versa. But at least consumers will have more choices of phones between at&t and Verizon.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By DanNeely on 4/23/2010 1:28:10 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily. They won't be operating on the same frequencies, which makes locking them relatively simply. Eg you can use an unlocked iPhone on TMobile in the US but only on the 2.5G; it doesn't have hardware support for TMobile's 3G channels. If software defined radio comes to handsets (it's already starting to show up in the towers) then a firmware patch would allow switching networks (potentially to include going from GSM to CDMA, or LTE to WiMaxx) but the requirements are different than on base stations where using an extra few percent power for generic hardware instead of dedicated is much less of a problem.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By soloman02 on 4/23/2010 1:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
Chip manufacturers will most likely make chips that work on the frequencies that at&t and Verizon are going to use. This is because it is cheaper to design and package ONE chip that supports multiple frequencies in the 700MHz domain than to design and package two chips, one for at&t phones and one for Verizon phones. This is the reason chip makers came out with quad band chips for at&t GSM phones so that they could make one chip that would work for phones sold around the world.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By PandaBear on 4/23/2010 3:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
There are already unified chips from Qualcomm that works as world phone, i.e. having both CDMA and GSM in it. The problem will continue even in LTE since it is because Verizon that doesn't want a SIM card rather than Qualcomm doesn't work with SIM card, that we don't have SIM in the US CDMA.

The carrier will bring this to the LTE as well, you can count on it, except that the equipment will be cheaper. A phone coming out without being tested for the unused frequency / protocol will suck big time if switched to another protocol/frequency, like what happen to iPhone on T-Mobile, except worse.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By omnicronx on 4/23/2010 4:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
IMO, it is only an issue in the interum, Verizon's plan is to have LTE rolled out to its current CDMA footprint by 2013 (with most high density areas upgraded long before that). At that point, CDMA fallback makes no sense.

This is similar to what Bell and Telus have done in Canada. They were previously CDMA carriers and will also be making the switch to LTE, but in the interum, they have deployed a GSM UTMS/HPSA network with 93%+ their CDMA footprint. So they basically run a CDMA 2/3g network alongside their new GSM UTMS network.

So now you have a choice, you can get a CDMA phone (limited to 3G) or a UTMS phone that has no 2g fallback, but is pretty much irrelevant as the UTMS network is as large as the previous CDMA network. (i.e you are not losing any coverage). This is how Bell and Telus got the iPhone on their network, and also makes the transition to LTE that much easier.

If I were to guess, Verizon is going to follow suit, it makes no sense for them to roll out multiple band phones. Phone cost would be higher, supporting two networks would cost more and phone issues (such as battery life from switching bands) would cause more headaches.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By PandaBear on 4/24/2010 2:45:24 AM , Rating: 2
Legacy system fall back is important for a while because people don't just throw away their old GSM/UMTS/CDMA phone right away, some people still use their old phones for years let along international traveler with roaming.

The good thing is that these newer equipment for LTE are backward compatible with most older tech and will make switching as painless as possible. Heck, that's what LTE stands for, long term evolution, not revolution.


RE: Locked to a carrier...
By SmCaudata on 4/23/2010 9:06:50 PM , Rating: 2
T-mobile has cheaper plans if you don't sign a contract and subsidize the phone. For high end phones it's isn't such a great deal because you only save like $10 per month. That is $240. But if you are buying a phone that is a year old it ends up being a great deal and you aren't locked in.


Not sure how to feel about this
By dvinnen on 4/23/2010 10:11:35 AM , Rating: 2
While this means HTC will say committed as the best Android platform they could of really used those patents to beat over Apple's head.




RE: Not sure how to feel about this
By DanNeely on 4/23/2010 10:19:05 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe, but probably not. Patent trolling is one of the common acts of a company that's on the rocks; the fact that Palm hasn't done so would seem to imply that their patent portfolio is fairly limited in value.


RE: Not sure how to feel about this
By clovell on 4/23/2010 11:13:04 AM , Rating: 3
Maybe, but I don't think Palm is as desparate as everyone would like to think.


Palm hardware sucks - this is why it doesn't sell
By jameskatt on 4/23/2010 11:39:17 AM , Rating: 2
Palm hardware sucks. This is why it doesn't sell.

I think Palm has to do some things:

1. Recruit HTC to make Palm hardware for it - essentially rebrand HTC's cell phones like Google and Microsoft do. This way, Palm doesn't have to do its own hardware. This way, Palm can keep up with Microsoft and Google.

2. Install the WebOS on these phones.

3. Create a developer SDK that can do native apps. The lack of apps is killing Palm. Get Adobe to create app creation tools for it. Sure, Flash apps suck and are generic. But having no apps is worse of all.

This may give Palm a chance in the world.

Of course, I'll upgrade to an iPhone 4G.




By retrospooty on 4/23/2010 12:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
HTC has been making Palms products for well over 5 years. I know for a fact all Treo's since the 650 came from HTC.

Palm has no chance as Palm. They need to be bought out by a company that can move faster on multiple fronts. They just arent built to be able to compete in todays tech economy.

Considering Lenovo bought the industry standard thinkpad laptop and desktop line from IBM and kept it going with not only keeping the high quality but improving upon it, I welcome Lenovo's purchase and hope it happens. This way Web OS will live on and hopefully better hardware options in the future.


By omnicronx on 4/23/2010 3:58:03 PM , Rating: 2
1. HTC has made Palm hardware in the past, still did no help them.(made a lot of palm phones before the pre was released)

2. Would be nice, but they have not faired too badly with WinMo and Android and have a lot invested in the two.

3. Like the Palm PDK? If you've ever looked on the app store, they 3D games there (many of which are basically the same as iPhone versions) are written using the Palm PDK, compiled to native c/c++ code using opengl. The PDK is already publically available , and will soon allow public app submissions.(well from the non big players at least, the big players have had access to the PDK for a while)


Yep, it's official . . .
By blueboy09 on 4/23/2010 7:17:48 PM , Rating: 2
Palm as we officially know it, is officially f*cked. RIP, Palm, you will be sorely missed!! - BLUEBOY




Palm needs new hardware
By Hacp on 4/25/2010 4:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
Pixi form factor+faster processor is what Palm needs.




I still think
By notposting on 4/23/2010 10:42:09 AM , Rating: 1
Motorola and Palm would be an interesting combination. Motorola hardware plus WebOS? Granted the financials of both companies make this incredibly unlikely but it's a nice idea.

And as above posters said, make sure they are on multiple carriers at once. No exclusivity deals (or at most, 6 months). Like the Dell phones they are previewing...TMo and AT&T only. Not for me then.




Sigh...
By chrnochime on 4/23/2010 1:49:36 PM , Rating: 1
I just wish the analyst being quoted in Taipei would at least make the effort to make sure whatever he said to them was grammatically correct. That would at least stop the critics from making fun of his English...




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