HP to Acquire Palm for $1.2 Billion | Business Wire

by Thomas Brady


This is probably a little weirder for me than it is for a lot of people.

I got into PDAs toward the end of college. I had a lot going on at school, at church, and in my personal life, and I was starting to double-book myself or just plain forget things (like studying for tests) too much. It was 1998, so I went looking for a day planner at the local Office Box Store®(Depot? Max? Like I remember…). Clever marketing dictated that an end cap full of Royal Personal Organizers on the day planner aisle.

The Royal didn’t cut it. It gave me the hunger, though. A couple months later I got a Handspring Visor. I upgraded a few times, hopping back and forth between Handspring and Palm brands, opting for color screens, rechargeable batteries, accessory ports. I even bought the mobile phone Springboard® for the Handspring - turning it into one of the most awkward  mobile phones money could buy (of course at the time I was just so jazzed that my PDA was my phone that I gave it a pretty good review).

Then I saw a Pocket PC. They could play MP3s. Ooh.

Granted, they usually only had enough memory onboard to fit a bit less than one whole CD worth of music, but this was before iPods hit the scene, with their copious storage.

My first Pocket PC cost me $500 used. It was a Compaq iPaq. They were pretty darned cool. I don’t remember the timing, exactly, but I think Compaq had already been bought by HP, who made their own Pocket PCs, and there was a lot of concern in the community as to what HP would do with the iPaq line. They’re still around, as it turns out.

Years after all of this (I think I totalled up over 20 PDAs that I had owned over about 5 years, including Palm, Pocket PC, and Linux OSs) I sold my last PDA on eBay. I was happy with just a phone. It was that year that Smartphones as we know them now blossomed, and I have since owned a Treo, a Motorola Q, several Nokias…

iPhone, obviously, has been the last stop for me, for three years now. I’ve had two models (the original and the 3G S).

So, let’s take a turn off Memory Ln. and get back to HP and Palm.

HP tried really hard for a long time to make good PDAs. Their hardware was always at least a little ahead of the pack. They suffered, though, once the devices were turned on, and that stupid four-colored flag flew. A Pocket PC is a Pocket PC is a Windows Phone 7, and they all suck.

Palm has had so many near-death experiences that they must have developed super-powers by now, right? WebOS has been praised pretty highly by most critics. Maybe it’s time for HP to be able to really differentiate themselves. Maybe it’s time for a Palm OS phone with snappy hardware, and an HP phone without a crappy OS.

I hope this works out. For everyone. Even happy iPhone users like myself. Competition is good for everyone.