Should Apple buy Palm?

“Speculation that Apple plans to buy handheld maker Palm has been revived by a call from two leading Palm investors for the company to be put up for sale, according to the local paper of both companies,” Clive Akass reports for Personal Computer World. “The fact that Apple has been named as a possible buyer may seem strange to those who recall that one of the most controversial acts of CEO Steve Jobs was to kill off the pen-driven Apple Newton, a pre-cursor of the Palm Pilot, when he returned to the company after a 10-year absence in 1996. Yet the two companies are closely linked. They are near neighbours and several early Palm employees, including co-founder and former company president Donna Dubinsky, previously worked with Apple.”

“Jobs tried to buy the company in the late nineties, according to the Mercury. Neither Apple nor Palm has given any sign that there is any basis for the renewed speculation but there are obvious fits between the two companies,” Akass writes. “Apple’s Ipod [sic] boom can hardly be sustained unless it can head off competition from PDAs and smartphones that can pack music players along with a host a other functions. Palm itself was slow off the mark in adding tricky telephony technology to its products and Apple would have a hard time starting from scratch in the market. Also, for all their vaunted style, the latest Apple notebooks look like antiques beside the latest pen-driven Tablet PCs. The company will have sooner or later be forced to offer a pen interface, and could benefit from Palm expertise in the area – especially as tablets are getting smaller, and may eventually supersede the PDA.”

Full article here.
Mr. Akass, meet Inkwell. To write that Apple’s portables look like antiques compared to Tablet PCs is ridiculous. Apple’s laptops should be compared to other laptops (most of which look like a bathroom scale when close, BTW), not to tablets. Apple’s portables are sleek, modern designs. Stop reading and recycling The Boston Herald’s Brett Arends’ scribblings, Mr. Akass. Apple doesn’t need Palm – Newton’s handwriting recognition is still better than the technology that Palm ships today. And Tablet PC sales aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, either.

“In 2001, Jobs explained: ‘You can’t imagine how many people think we’re crazy for not doing a Palm,’ said Jobs, ‘I won’t lie; we thought about it a lot. But I started asking myself, how useful are they, really? How many people at a given meeting show up with one? I don’t think early cultures had organisers, but I do know they had music.’Sydney Morning Herald, May 24, 2005

[Of course, we wouldn’t mind if an Apple-designed, Apple-branded mobile phone+PDA+iPod device became available, but Apple certainly doesn’t need Palm if they wanted to create such a product.]

Related articles:
Apple applies for more touch-sensitive display tablet patents – February 02, 2006
New Apple patents reveal portable tablet device, tablet video game application – January 27, 2006
Boston Herald writer: I earned a fatwa from ‘Appleheads’ over idea that Apple should buy Palm – December 23, 2005
Confused Boston Herald writer: Apple should buy Palm because iPods are not invincible – December 19, 2005
Apple Computer’s search for ‘Handwriting Recognition Engineer’ revives ‘Tablet Mac’ rumors – August 24, 2005
Emperor Gates’ new clothes: the failed mainstream Tablet PC – August 22, 2005
RUMOR: Apple Tablet exists running ‘reduced version’ of Mac OS X – May 24, 2005
Apple granted U.S. patent for Tablet Mac (with images) – May 10, 2005
Apple looking to add wireless connectivity to iPod, rumored Tablet Mac? – August 25, 2004
Apple hints at ‘handheld tablet computer’ with European design trademark filing – August 13, 2004
The Age ponders video Bluetooth iPod; tablet Mac possibilities – January 22, 2003
Apple readying secret iTablet for Macworld unveiling? – January 03, 2003
Tablet Mac watch begins – November 17, 2002


  1. Thinking selfishly for a moment… the first thing I could see happening would be a Treo 750X … obviously running Mac OS X trimmed down. Tell me that a single 700W would ever sell again. Problem is, again, Apple can’t control the whole widget, as they would still rely on a carrier that they aren’t in complete control of. I think his point about how useful are they REALLY is totally valid… but Palm is really antiquated and they seem to have no desire to change that image.

  2. If Apple could make something like the iMate wit a lot more functionality than I would buy one.

    Can’t be too hard to do.

    Come on Apple show the rest how to ‘do it right’


  3. But why not.

    Apple can pick up Palm really cheap and probably get some good patents and people.

    Did I say really cheap?

    Come on Apple. Buy something. It has been awhile since you gobbled up something and make it even better.

  4. Palm has succeeded in making its platform OS-agnostic. Witness MS Mobile 5.0 and PalmOS running on what is basically the same hardware. The company that bought PalmSource (the PalmOS developer) is rumoured to be porting the OS to a Linux base. How difficult would it be for Apple to create a mobile version of OS X for the Treo?

    Not that they would…

  5. Apple stock is dropping like a rock!!!

    What is it – down about 20% in the last couple of weeks!


    There goes my ivy league school college plans.

  6. It’s funny in 2006 to see someone talking about the Tablet PC as if it were high-tech or snazzy. The Tablet PC flopped more than a year ago, and is almost ancient history now.

    Apple won’t buy Palm because Palm doesn’t have anything of value: no good software, no good hardware, and no important file formats or protocols.

  7. Fsck buying Palm. Apple needs to buy Adobe. Stagger Photoshop, etc. releases so that Windows versions are always behind and lacking features – just like Microsoft does to Mac users with their crappy software. Or just cancel Windows development.

    Intel-compatible “Adobe/Macromedia” apps would be out sooner and Microsoft would have the fear of Jobs put to them!

  8. I get so sick of these stories. Palm should just shut down and give the money back to the investors.

    Apple should buy DirecTV and once and for all do away with stupid “packages” and let people just pick what they want to watch and build their own packages, instead of 200 channels of crap in some language you don’t speak, as if that’s a perk.

  9. Not sure this makes sense. The Newton almost bankrupted Apple so I don’t think SJ wants to go there again. Besides they will face very heavy competition from MS in that space. I also believe that phones will eventually replace PDAs.

    I’d rather see Apple acquire a big biz software company or maybe a gaming software company.

  10. “Apple won’t buy Palm because Palm doesn’t have anything of value: no good software, no good hardware, and no important file formats or protocols.”

    Palm has the Treo – the only device that successfully merges Blackberry/PDA/Phone functions. you obviously don’t have a need for that kind of a device, but I am very happy to not have to cart around my Blackberry (now a paperweight), a PDA and a separate phone.

    And I also use it to store family pics, read RSS newsfeeds, read/edit office docs, listen to music, play Tetris, IM my relatives abroad… just too much to mention.

    You see, my phone I always have with me. I can’t say the same for my notebook.

  11. They should not buy Palm. The Apple name is bigger and Palm has gone downhill IMHO. They used to lead the market in producing solid products that were well planned. However they have lost that recently as other products have come on the market to do a better Job. My P900 is far more useful because the sync software works properly with the mac.

    Apple created the PDA market and the Newton became by the time of it’s demise a pretty good PDA. Treo’s are not great phones and the phone/PDA combo is the only handheld market that makes any sense. Sure Apple would turn palm around, but why do they need to?

    If Apple wanted to buy someone now, they should go for RIM/Blackberry – that is the handheld with the best set of tools to build on.

  12. Palm are basically a worthless company in a dying market. Smartphones I can just about accept, but PDAs are dead and gone. I know – I used to be an avid Palm Pilot user in 1999, I still have one now, but I never use it. Why – because as Jobs says, they’re really not that useful.

    Clearly Apple at some point will have to merge iPods and phones, but I fail to see what owning Palm will bring to the table here.

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