Palm's Jon Rubinstein has made it clear that he still believes in the struggling smartphone maker. Rubinstein is open to takeover offers, but sees another way forward. From Rubinstein's point of view, Palm has one main asset, and that's WebOS. While Palm's hardware isn't selling well, many tech enthusiasts drool over WebOS and what it's capable of. Rubinstein said he is looking into licensing WebOS to other smartphone makers to boost revenue.
After the February revenue warning that Palm would miss expectations, the stock has been in free fall, interrupted only by occasional rumors of an outside takeover. Still, Rubinstein is positive saying, "We have a plan that gets us to profitability.” That apparently includes developing new handsets, which could be their best bet. The Pre was announced over a year ago and has long since been eclipsed by a new iPhone and the Android explosion.
Whether or not Palm continues on as an independent company, Rubinstein intends to give it his best shot. We're particularly pleased to hear Palm is moving ahead with new hardware, as we really are impressed by WebOS. We'll just have to see how much slack Palm's main backers, Elevation Partners, are willing to give the besieged company. So is Palm going to make it, or not?
The turbulent times continue for Palm. According to a regulatory filing the company made on Friday, Michael Abbott, Palm's Senior Vice President of Software and Services, will step down from his role on April 23, 2010. Abbott submitted his resignation on last Monday.
The handset maker has fallen on tough times as of late. Earlier this month, reports began to surface that Palm was looking for a buyer, with Lenovo and HTC named as possible suitors. Poor smartphone sales have led to a disappointing quarter and falling stock prices, whereas last year there was talk that Palm's Pre might end up an iPhone killer.
Whether or not Palm urged Abbott to step down isn't clear, but in the same filing, the company disclosed it had given a couple of other high level execs financial incentives to stay on board. Both Douglas Jeffries (senior VP and CFO) and Jeffrey Devine (senior VP of Global Operations) stand to receive a cash bonus of $250,000 and a grant of restricted stock units, all of which are to be given a over a two-year period so long as they stay.
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?
Palm CEO Jon Rubenstein gave an exclusive interview to CNN Money today, and it was an ugly sight. Everyone knows that we loved the Palm Pre when it debuted at CES in 2009, but it was quickly lost in the smart phone shuffle among heavyweights such as iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. The hardware and software concepts gave it a serious chance to compete with the big guys, but in the end the lackluster launch didn't win over enough third party developers, causing the platform to stagnate next to its rivals.
Given the gruesome reality facing Rubinstein these days, I think most people are surprised to see he is still working the interview circuit at all. The vast majority of the CNN questions were a spin on "Guess you guys are out of luck" and "so has anyone offered to buy Palm yet"? Despite the hard line, Rubinstein maintains that Palm has "tremendous assets" and that people should take note of the state of the company prior to webOS.
Palm's primary advantage at this point lies in its ability to multitask, but if the platform lacks compelling applications, who cares how many of them you can run in the background. Everyone here is hoping Palm has what it takes to turn its fortunes around, but there isn't an analyst out there right now with as much optimism about the company's future as Rubenstein.
Feel free to check out the full interview, and let us know what you think lies in the future for Palm.
There's no crying in baseball, but there's plenty of boo-hooing in Silicon Valley. The latest sobs come from Jon Rubinstein, CEO of Palm, who's having a tough time accepting that Motorola's Droid won the foot race into Verizon.
"If we could have launched at Verizon prior to the Droid, I think we would have gotten the attention the Droid got. And since I believe we have a better product, I think we could have even done better," Rubinstein laments.
Maybe, maybe not. By the time Droid came to market, the Palm Pre had already been available for four months, and it's probably not fair to cast the blame on Sprint, the Pre's exclusive launch partner and th reason why Palm wasn't available in Verizon stores.
Rubinstein might also be underestimating a little freight train called Android, currently the fastest growing OS on the market. Whether the Pre could have made it into Verizon first or not, it's hard to imagine that the Droid wouldn't have been popular either way.
Clio is one of the new wave of cloud-based software solutions (SaaS, or Software as a Service). It is designed for attorneys, allowing solo practitioners or small firms to manage all aspects of the their practice online, through a web-based interface. Clio is expanding access to its software through mobile applications, allowing access from smartphones.
“Having information at your fingertips has always been a need for lawyers,” said Jack Newton, the President of Clio, “The recent advances in the mobile space, coupled with innovative applications, are helping make ‘anytime, anywhere’ access a reality. The iPhone, Palm Pre, and Android-based phones such as the Google Nexus One are helping to revolutionize the mobile market, and we’re happy to provide lawyers anytime, anywhere access to their practice management software via our Clio mobile application.”
A brief review of the iPhone application is available it iPhone J.D. Additional information on Clio, including a tour of the software, is available at goClio.com.
With no end in sight for Apple's ridiculously long review of the Google Voice app for the iPhone, the search engine heavyweight decided to single-handedly break the deadlock. A web-based Google Voice app for the iPhone and Palm's Web OS platform is Google's repartee to Apple's delaying tactics. The HTML 5 app can be accessed from the phone's browser. This being an HTML 5 app, it is more advanced than the existing browser-based version for mobile phones.
The two companies have been on the warpath ever since last July, when Google claimed that Apple had refused to admit its Google Voice app to the App Store. Although Apple had categorically denied rejecting the app back then, Google Voice is yet to earn its approval.
“You can make calls from your phone that show your Google Voice number as the caller ID. You can also listen to voicemail and read voicemail transcripts, send and receive text messages for free, and take advantage of the low international call rates offered by Google Voice,” Google announced on the official Google Mobile blog.
The spec sheets for the Verizon versions of Palm’s WebOS phones appear to have leaked ahead of the official CES event tomorrow. Sadly, there aren’t any big surprises here. The phones will be called the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus, a naming scheme seemingly designed to get under Sprint’s skin.
The Pre Plus will get a welcome storage bump to 16GB from the current 8GB. The Pixi Plus will thankfully have Wi-Fi on board now. Neither phone will be graced with a MicroSD card slot or support for video recording, though. The Pixi will also still be equipped with the same middling CPU found in the Sprint version. No pricing or release dates were leaked, but we’ll most likely get those at the Palm event tomorrow.
It’s no secret that Android is gaining momentum. The release of the Droid on Verizon and the upcoming Nexus One announcement have gotten people’s attention in a big way. A recent survey by ChangeWave shows us just how much Android’s star has risen in the last few months. With the millions Verizon has spent on advertising the Droid, this shouldn’t be too surprising.
In December, ChangeWave asked 4068 consumers that planned on purchasing a smartphone in the next 90 days which mobile platform they would like to purchase. They found that 21% of people planned to get an Android phone, up from only 6% in September. The iPhone still won out with 28%, but that’s down a few points from the last survey. Android’s 15-point jump seems to have also come at the expense of Windows Mobile and Palm’s WebOS, both down 3%. Blackberry weathered the Android storm well, and actually saw a small uptick in the December numbers.
Google’s brand and Verizon’s marketing seem to be combining to lure in consumers. While the iPhone isn’t about to be knocked off by Android, Palm is hanging on by a thread. Just a year ago Palm was the underdog darling of CES 2009, but they may have to pull another rabbit out of their mobile hat to make it to 2011.
Palm is changing up the development platform for its WebOS based devices. After a short private beta, the new Ares SDK is available to aspiring WebOS developers. While Palm’s Mojo SDK has been available for several months, Ares is different. The Ares SDK is entirely browser-based. That seems only fitting for a platform that relies so heavily on web technologies to create apps.
Palm’s goal here seems to be to get more web developers involved. These people may be well suited to developing for WebOS, but would never go to the trouble of downloading a SDK. Ares endeavors to keep everything one might need in a single place.
There aren’t really any other surprises beyond that. The SDK still won’t allow a lot of complexity in apps. For the most part, you still won’t see software that is as advanced as what we see on Android and iPhone.