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Making The Case For HTC Buying Palm: The Enterprise Mobility Perspective

Today is a holiday here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  It’s Patriots’ Day – the day that commemorates the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.  It’s a special day here in Boston also because the world’s elite runners (those who could actually avoid the volcanic eruption in Iceland) have descended onto our fair city to run The Boston Marathon.  Even your intrepid enterprise mobility enthusiast/workaholic will actually take a couple of hours off today to go enjoy a game of baseball at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox (another Patriots’ Day tradition).

Before that however, I wanted to throw out my $.02 on the rumors floating around about HTC and Palm.  On the heels of Matt Thornton’s commentary (a Guest Commentator for The Enterprise Mobility Foundation), Palm announced that it was putting itself up for sale.  Within three nanoseconds, the blogospere started up its rumor mill of who should/could/would acquire Palm.  The front runner (note the Marathon inspired pun) – HTC.  Mr. Thornton provided some great commentary on the matter, but I wanted to add my own thoughts on the matter.  While not who I would “want” to see buy Palm, I think this would be a great move on HTC’s part. Here’s why:

  1. Ego.  Yup, you heard me.  While HTC has had an incredible rate of growth in the last couple of years with some amazing hardware for both Windows Mobile and now Android devices (I am lusting after the HD2), I will argue they are still a second class citizen…if ONLY because they don’t have their own platform.  Having your own platform means you have total control.  This is why Apple and RIM have had so much success of late. (TBD how Samsung plays out Bada)
  2. Leverage.  Leverage plays into the last comment of Point #1.  By having your own OS, you can also have more leverage with your other “partners.”  This was one of the main reasons why HTC started developing Android devices after having created itself on the Windows Mobile platform.  If HTC isn’t happy with where Microsoft is headed, it can focus more on Android and vice versa.  That said, by purchasing Palm, it can hedge its bets further.
  3. Differentiation.  This, in my opinion, is probably the biggest point…and is related back to Point #1  By having its own OS, HTC can set itself apart from other Windows Mobile device manufacturers (especially in the context of Windows Phone 7 where differentiation will be that much more difficult).  It can also differentiate itself from all the other Android device manufacturers beyond just adding the TouchFLO user interface.

(Note to self. Reading this entry back, I realized that Points #2 and #3 go back to Point #1….so is it all about ego?  Hmmm.)

There are some more specific enterprise related perspectives in my opinion.  It’s no secret that I believe webOS is one of the most elegant and sophisticated mobile platforms available in the market.  It’s lack of success is directly related to marketing, promotion, timing and dumb luck.  That all translates to lack of cash to continue innovating and promoting your platform.  This is where HTC can help.

Furthermore, with that cash, I believe HTC can have a very positive impact on making webOS a strong platform for enterprise mobility.  Given its Windows Mobile pedigree, HTC clearly understands the enterprise.  In fact, HTC had (has?) a direct sales team in the United States for enterprise deployments.  HTC could also then invest in making more APIs available on webOS for device management, as well as security/encryption, and provide better support for ActiveSync by embracing all 50 IT policies available on Exchange 2010.

Eric Zeman had an interesting postlast week making the case against HTC creating its own mobile OS (in short, we don’t need ANOTHER platform). Maybe this would be the way to balance everything out and keep Palm and webOS alive.

What do you think?  Would HTC acquiring Palm make sense to you?

2 Comments

  1. Posted April 28, 2010 at 17:17 | Permalink

    Well, it’s funny everyone believed HTC will buy Palm, and from nowhere came HP and stole it away! :-)

    http://mobilespoon.blogspot.com/2010/04/hp-will-acquire-palm.html

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  2. Posted April 28, 2010 at 18:49 | Permalink

    The speculation about webOS moving to other “mobile devices” (iPad competitor anyone?) is interesting and suggests a potentially significant shift in the mix (and complexity!) of the enterprise OS platform on more than just mobile phones.

    All the details from the HP webcast this afternoon: http://h30261.www3.hp.com/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=71087&eventID=3051841

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