There are a couple of questions surrounding Palm these days, such as will the company be sold, and if so, who's going to snatch it up? According to a recent Reuters report, Lenovo has replaced HTC as the front runner to scoop the struggling smartphone maker up.
Nokia, Motorola, and Research in Motion (RIM) have all also been mentioned as possible suitors, though if you talk to Palm CEO Jon Rubinsteign (and the Financial Times did), Palm can get by on its own.
"I believe Palm can survive as an independent company. We have a plan that gets us to profitability," Rubinstein said, adding that Palm is working "fast and furious on new handsets." Palm is also considering licensing its webOS to other manufacturers, Rubinstein said.
Naturally, Lenovo had no comment on any potential interest in acquiring Palm.
It wasn't totally unexpected, but it's still jarring to hear Bloomberg reporting that Palm is up for sale. The maker of the WebOS-packing Pre smartphone seemed resurgent just a year ago, but lackluster sales have resulted in poor stock performance and anxious invertors. Palm is said to be working with Goldman Sachs Group to shop around to perspective buyers. Among the possible suitors are Lenovo and HTC.
Just a few weeks ago Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein seemed defiant saying, " I am still confident that our talented team has what it takes to get the job done." But it seems the last few quarter have made their course clear. The speculation is that HTC would be particularly interested in Palm for their large patent portfolio, which could help fend off a suit from Apple. Of course, we wouldn't put it past Apple to buy up Palm to get those patents in Cupertino. Also, Steve Jobs would probably love to fire Rubinstein out of spite.
If nothing else, the acquisition talk has helped Palm's sagging stock price. It's risen over 32% in the past week on news of a sale. As for what this means for the future of WebOS, no one can say. It's possible a buyer could scrap the whole company. Any Pre or Pixi owners out there? If your updates stop flowing, will you move on or stick it out hoping for community support?
HTC can afford to live high on the hog this year after posting higher revenues than the company anticipated. For the first quarter of 2010, HTC reported $1.19 billion in revenue, a 19.33 percent increase from one year ago. In a best case scenario, HTC had hoped to report anywhere from $1 billion to $1.07 billion for the quarter.
New phone shipments played an integral role in driving up HTC's numbers, particularly Android-based smartphones to T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, market watchers noted. March was especially kind to HTC, in which revenues reached $515.57 million, a 60 percent sequential jump and 32.38 percent rise on year.
Market watchers expect HTC to perform even better in the second quarter, predicting revenues will reach as high as $1.37 billion.
Life is good for HTC, the handset maker riding the wave of Android in the smartphone market. So good, in fact, that the company is on pace to hit a new high in handset shipments this quarter.
According to a report in the Chinese-language Commercial Times, HTC will likely ship 4.5 million units in the second quarter. That's a significant bump over the first quarter, which is expected to note 3.3-3.5 million units once all the numbers are tallied.
Much of HTC's success can be traced to Android-based devices, with several new models on tap, including the HTC Desire, HTC Legend, and HTC Incredible. Windows Mobile is also seeing some action from HTC, including the much-touted HTC HD2 and upcoming HTC HD Mini.
The launch of the Google Nexus One had its share of mishaps, with poor customer service, unexpected fees, and spotty 3G. As the weeks passed the superphone was selling, but not very fast. We recently heard that the Nexus One sold only 135,000 phones in the time it took the iPhone to reach 1 million. Many used this to declare the Nexus a flop. HTC CEO Peter Chou disagrees with that.
Chou points to the new ground broken by the Nexus One. It was sold by Google in a new way, bypassing the carriers. It was also the first to run Android 2.1. Chou believes the phone’s launch gives his company more clout, which is good considering the legal situation they find themselves in. When speaking about the numbers, Chou explained, "[Google's] goal with the Nexus One was to really show how good Android can be."
HTC believes that the recognition they got from the Nexus One can serve them well, even as they also move ahead with Windows Phone 7. Have you ever owned an HTC phone? How did you like it?
T-Mobile's 3G coverage map might leave quite a bit to be desired, but hey, it's not all bad news for T-Mobile subscribers. For the next six months, Aircell is offering free Gogo Inflight Internet service to owners of T-Mobile USA's new HTC HD2 smartphone.
"Aircell is constantly striving to partner with companies that can enrich the inflight experience," said Aircell President and CEO Michael Smith. "With the newest smartphone from T-Mobile, we can provide our customers with a simple, yet powerful way to stay connected, even at 35,000 feet."
To access the service, HTC HD2 users need only select the Gogo Inflight Internet bookmark under the "Favorites" menu and register to kick off the free service period. The offer is valid for up to six months or until June 30, 2011, whichever comes first.
According to Aircell, 30 percent of visitors access the Gogo Inflight Portal from Wi-Fi enabled smartphones. Gogo is now available on more than 760 commercial aircraft and more than 2,600 daily flights in the U.S., with pricing starting at $4.95 per session.
But Apple can be expected to pull out all the stops to retain its comfortable lead over its younger rival. Earlier this month, it dragged Taiwanese phone maker HTC to court, alleging that its Android phones infringe nearly 20 of its patents. It wants a ban on the import of all such HTC handsets that infringe the iPhone-related patents.
Although HTC is yet to officially respond in court, the phone maker from the Far East has finally broken its silence over the lawsuit. It should not surprise anyone that HTC disagrees with Apple's claims and remains unfazed. It has vowed to “fully defend” itself.
“HTC strongly advocates intellectual property protection and will continue to respect other innovators and their technologies as we have always done, but we will continue to embrace competition through our own innovation as a healthy way for consumers to get the best mobile experience possible,” said Peter Chou, chief executive officer, HTC Corporation.
The press release appears to be a reminder of HTC's ability to innovate to anyone who doubts it. It quite proudly points out “HTC’s technology firsts” that include the first Windows PDA (1998), first 3G CDMA EVDO smartphone (October 2005), first Google Android smartphone and first 4G WIMAX smartphone (November 2008).
An unsuspecting Vodafone customer got quite a nasty surprise when she got her new HTC Magic (MyTouch 3G in the states). Upon plugging it into her Windows PC, Panda Antivirus sounded the alarm. It turns out that the new phone contained several malware programs including an installer for the Mariposa botnet.
This wasn’t just any poor soul, lost in the wilds of technology though. Nope, the victim of this sneak attack works for Panda Security. As you can imagine, her coworkers were terribly interested in the phone. Closer examination showed an autorun.inf and autorun.exe that would load the malware on any PC the phone was plugged into. Panda confirmed that the botnet was active, and when installed the software “phoned home” for instructions. They also found a Confiker variant and a password stealer.
Vodafone recently discontinued the Magic, so after current stocks are sold out no one will need fear the phone baddies. Well, until the next time this happens. So how did a Spanish hacker group get their malware on this phone? And more importantly, are more phones affected? It seems unlikely there was just one infected phone, and that it happened to be sold to a Panda employee.
In a statement that sounds all too familiar, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” Reminiscent of its current battle with Nokia, Apple will fight this one out concurrently in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
Case in point is HTC’s highly regarded HD2 touchscreen smartphone. A nice little device with a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, a high resolution capacitive touch display, and a five megapixel camera. But, the HD2 has five buttons--Windows Phone 7 says three and no more. No Windows Phone 7 for the HD2!
It is suspected, perhaps, that the HD2 fails in some other ways as well. It’s hard to say, exactly, because the Microsoft hasn’t made public the hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7. That’s expected to happen this month at the MIX developer conference in Las Vegas. Whatever the case, any legacy hardware that doesn’t meet these requirements is going to be left behind.
What little solace Windows Mobile 6.5 users have is that Microsoft says it won’t abandon them. An upgrade, to version 6.5.3, is expected before rebranding to Windows Phone Classic. And Windows Phone Classic will stick around for the “budget-minded smartphone buyer”.