In the blink of an eye last week, Verizon Wireless made a sudden price change to their lineup of Palm devices. Unfortunately, even giving away the Pre+ and Pixi+ may not inspire consumers given the latest news on the fate of the WebOS maker.
Bloomberg is reporting that Palm has contacted Goldman Sachs Group Inc. about a potential sale of the company to a third party buyer. The early reports show that Taiwanese corporation HTC Corp. and China’s Lenovo group are the leading candidates for the purchase. A purchase by HTC would probably lead to that manufacturer using the WebOS system on their leading edge hardware designs – and give it a full set of patents to potentially hold against the iPhone creator Apple Inc. Apple and HTC are currently at war over ‘multi-touch’ and various other patents. Lenovo could see a rebirth in the handheld market with the purchase.
The more important question we have to ask is, what does this do for the buyer today. Right now, the Palm WebOS is still in its infancy. There are applications just coming to market to take advantage of the multi-tasking, card-flipping, graphic-oriented interface that the Pre and Pixi series run. A blow such as a buy out or sale could lead to developers making a max exodus to either the Android platform or possibly the more lucrative Windows Phone 7 platform coming later this year. If Palm begins to lose these developers, it will be the end of the line for WebOS.
The complete picture is still up in the air, but for now, smartphone prices are shrinking quickly. Devices over $200 are tougher to find and those under $100 have some amazing capabilities. Unless you are going to update your device on a 6 to 12 month cycle, the Palm devices are looking short of the best choice available.