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The sad tale of Palm
Palm has such a storied history with its relationships with companies that it acquired and companies that acquired it that it would be not be unreasonable to deem it as the Zha Zha Gabor of the technology industry.
A few years after its founding, Palm Computing was purchased by US Robotics, a company known mostly for producing data communications products.
Under that marriage, starting in 1996, the legendary PalmPilot PDA was sold and manufactured. But that marriage was short-lived, as networking company 3COM bought US Robotics in 1997. Unhappy with the way the company was going, the company's two founders, Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins, went their own way and formed Handspring, a company that produced PalmPilot clones.
In 2000, Palm was eventually spun off by 3COM into an independent publicly traded company. While this improved the company's finances for a time, by June of 2001 the company had lost over 90 percent of its publicly traded value.
In 2001, Palm also purchased Be Inc., a company that produced high-performance computer workstations that ran on BeOS, which was one of the original contenders to replace Apple's aging Mac OS System 7.
When Apple chose Steve Jobs' NeXT company and their OpenStep OS instead, Be was bought at a fire-sale price of $11 million. While industry followers expected the company to use the OS as the basis for its future products, Palm never did anything with BeOS.
In order to attempt to generate more revenue, In 2003 Palm split itself into two companies, PalmSource (for licensing the Palm OS) and PalmOne for producing the PDA hardware. In 2003, PalmOne also purchased Handspring to bring Dubinsky and Hawkins back into the fold.
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Palmsource, the company that was meant to become the software licensor, ended up being purchased by Japanese company ACCESS in 2005, which had the intention of creating a next-generation Linux OS, ALP (ACCESS Linux Platform) for mobile devices that would have Palm emulation capability. This went effectively nowhere.
What ACCESS did do was sell the trademarks for the name 'Palm' back to PalmOne for $30 million in 2005.
Palm continued to flounder for several years until 2009, when the webOS mobile operating system and the Palm Pre smartphone was introduced. While displaying innovative multitasking features and a unique user interface, the Pre was a market failure.
In 2010, Hewlett-Packard acquired Palm for approximately $1.2 billion. The Palm brand was discontinued in favor of HP's branding, and the company began development of new smartphone as well as tablet products that used webOS.
On July 4th, 2011, HP's TouchPad tablet went on sale to an unreceptive public and to extremely unfavorable reviews, many citing the product's sluggishness and numerous software bugs. After 45 days on the market and abysmal sales. Hewlett-Packard made the decision to discontinue the manufacturing of all webOS-based products.
In December of 2011, under the leadership of HP's new CEO, Meg Whitman, the company accounted that WebOS would be released in the near future under an open source license.
The future of any webOS-based products produced by HP or any potential licensee is currently uncertain.