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Amazon In Talks With HP To Buy Palm 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the might-come-in-handy-some-day dept.
Nemilar writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: "Who will save what's left of Palm from HP's bumbling? It could be Amazon, as the online retailing giant is in serious negotiations to snap up Palm from HP. No other company seems as fitting a home for Palm and its webOS software. It's worth noting that former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, who now holds a vague 'product innovation' role at HP's Personal Services Group, joined Amazon's board late last year."
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Amazon In Talks With HP To Buy Palm

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  • Seems pretty absurd to me. They just launched an Android-based platform with Amazon-customized UI, their apps already run on Android devices (of which there are quite a few out there), and they have their shiny new cloud-assisted browser, built on Android and EC2. What do they need WebOS for? How are they a "fitting home" for it?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the guy who wrote the article is an idiot.
      amazon wants them for their patents, nothing else.

      • by obarthelemy (160321) on Friday September 30, 2011 @02:55PM (#37570632)

        you are the idiot. Amazon wants a tablet locked in to their content. webOS provides much better lock-in than a neutered vesion of Android that's sure to be hacked and forced open sooner or later. Amazon is probably the only player aside from Apple/Google/MS to be in a position to create and support an ecosystem.

        • by alen (225700)

          and how are the current apps in the amazon market going to work?

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday September 30, 2011 @02:52PM (#37570590) Journal

      Three thoughts.

      #1 is obvious - patents. Perhaps they expect Apple to sue them trying to block sales, or MS to come collecting fees, and think that Palm has a patent portfolio that is a good deterrent in mobile tech (which wouldn't be surprising).

      #2 is that Amazon sees patent problems with Android, especially the ones with Oracle, and thinks that there is a good chance that this will translate to considerable $$$ payouts for anyone who's building their systems on that (since, obviously, Oracle will sue all Android manufacturers for licensing fees if they win the fight with Google). And so they want a safe fallback platform, preferably one that is already stable and proven, yet not completely different (still Linux at heart).

      #3 is that Android that runs on Kindle Fire is very different from your typical Android. To a casual user, it's pretty much unrecognizable. To that extent, one wonders if they could take webOS and slap an Android compat layer on top of that (given that it's also Linux-based, it's probably not all that hard to make Dalvik run there). Not sure what would possibly be gained by doing that, but from what I heard, webOS is better at smooth UI than Android.

      • given that it's also Linux-based, it's probably not all that hard to make Dalvik run there

        Maybe I'm misremembering, isn't Dalvik the part of Android that Oracle is suing over? I thought that was the whole reason that Palm didn't want to implement it, sure it would give them access to all the Android apps that are already made (and then we'd have to retrain everyone to think of them as Dalvik apps which Joe Public is never going to understand) but it would open them up to the same lawsuits Google is facing.

      • by saikou (211301)

        #1. Weren't most of the Palm patents sold out already? Of course whichever is left could be "enough" but still...

        #2. "Visible" problems are always better than new ones. Unless Oracle actually closely examined Palm/HP's stuff you can't say if there will be lawsuits later, so blindly buying new operating system might be actually worse than letting Oracle and Google hash it out in court.

        #3. So what? Look at HTC -- the older versions of Android skinned with HTC's Sense were almost unrecognizable from the stock

      • It's not just Oracle. Android-based vendors are lining up to pay Microsoft as much as $10 a unit as well.

        And, by the way, since Amazon isn't paying Google, it's possible Oracle will go after Amazon as well.

        • Well, Microsoft so far is content with just collecting a fairly modest (comparable to what you pay for other commercial mobile OSes) licensing fee - this cuts into the profit margin of Android vendors, but I doubt it's significant; they can still keep selling the product and making money. Oracle, on the other hand, seems to be bent on either getting a huge payout for Java, or (recently) even forcing Google to drop Dalvik altogether because it's not "standard Java". The latter, in particular, would really hu

    • Well they could always have later versions of the Kindle Fire based on WebOS, and I would wonder if they could even issue a new software update for the Fire that moved it over to Palm. Their applications, include their "shiny new browser", can probably be ported over.

      Although their Fire is currently running Android, it doesn't seem like they're aiming aiming to create "just another Android tablet". They want it to be highly customized and focused on directing you to their own services rather than providi

    • by bberens (965711)
      I really hope not. I like WebOS and would've gladly taken it instead of Android but there is such a thing as too many choices. As a developer having to deploy to both iOS and Android is already a pain.. as a consumer if I see someone with an iPhone with an app it may or may not exist/run on Android or WebOS. It sucks for pretty much everyone involved other than the large corporations backing these systems.
      • You'll have to deal with Win8 once it comes out anyway, and it, like webOS, also promotes HTML5/JS as the app framework. Come to think of it, it would be quite ironic if Win8 would revive webOS app market...

  • What happened to my $5 offer?

    • by ynp7 (1786468)

      I offered them $5 and a grilled cheese sandwich. The real question is what happened to my offer! They already ate the sandwich and now they're talking to Amazon?!?!

    • They're not convinced you'll have the money until I finally pay yo mama.

  • I want Google to buy Palm's assets so that the WebOS benefits (like the card interface) can be merged into Android. They can junk the hardware and just keep the good stuff that was part of WebOS.

    • I find the card interface is an irritating gimmick. It does nothing more than a regular task bar, takes up a whole screen to do it, and is slowish. Granted, throwing away apps instead of closing them is a small rush, but really, the card interface is wildly over-hyped.

      • Re:Not Amazon! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:10PM (#37570806)

        The card interface is nice because it works on the given form factor better than any of the other implementations. Generally, in iOS and Android, you don't know what other applications are currently running. And a taskbar is almost always too small to use easily on a touch device, sure you could make it bigger but then its either taking up extremely valuable real estate or it needs to have a gesture or button to activate. Personally, I don't see it as much different that alt-tabbing through open windows in any desktop OS, though I grant that it would be nice to have two or more applications visible and intractable at the same time.

        • Re:Not Amazon! (Score:4, Informative)

          by the linux geek (799780) on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:29PM (#37570990)
          The N810's implementation of Maemo used a taskbar (on the left of the screen), and it worked just fine.
          • I have a 770 running Maemo and a TouchPad, and I'd take exception to two things with your comment. First, Maemo didn't have a taskbar, it had a NeXT-style dock. Secondly, it didn't 'work fine'. Finding the window you want with the card interface is a lot easier. You had a small row of tiny icons in the dock with Maemo, and each one then expanded to a menu if you had multiple running instances.

        • If it takes half a second to launch an app, on any platform, who cares if it's running or not?

          • I do, if my system is low on memory. It isn't just about opening them, sometimes it is about closing unneeded memory hogs.

            • by idontgno (624372)
              I've never known Android after 2.2 to be shy about killing a long-idle task taking up memory, if the GC needed it. Task-killer apps, and manually killing tasks, are completely OBE.
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          The app bar in iOS works just fine, either at iPhone or iPad sizes. It's small and discreet. Swiping to reveal it on the iPad is very nice.

          And yes, the task switcher definitely SHOULD have a button or gesture to reveal it. Otherwise it's taking up valuable screen real estate no matter what it looks like or how small it is.

      • by Cinder6 (894572)

        I can't disagree more. On tablets, at least (I've never used a webOS phone), it's leaps and bounds ahead of iOS and Android, in my view. It's not only a great way to see what's open, but you can see the current states of apps and organize them by task by placing them into stacks. And closing apps is not only simple, swiping cards away to close them is both a great metaphor and surprisingly fun (even after having a Touchpad for over a month).

        In all honesty, I like it so much I'm selling my iPad in favor o

        • by slackergod (37906)

          Relating to webOS phones... I regularly have 8+ browser pages open on my Palm Pre, and I can switch between them quickly with barely a glance and a couple of idly placed swipes with my thumb. I can't think of another ui that would make that work... even on a tablet, the "tabbed browser" interface is clunky. If they'd make a version of Android with 1) that interface, 2) webos's lack of jailbreaking, 3) something akin to Preware and it's offerings... I'd be a lot happier about switching to an Android phone wh

    • I wonder if you could qualify as a charity with the stated goal of buying patents and copyrighted materials and releasing them to the commons. It's obviously got a stated goal to benefit the public good, but I don't see what 501(c) category it would fall into. Are there charities like this that exist already?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 30, 2011 @02:45PM (#37570490)

    A good 20% of the staff in Amazon's Kindle division (Lab126) are ex-Palm. They can rejoin their old coworkers.

    Except I am told that many of the people left Palm because they didn't like working with some people there. And some people from Palm were glad that some of these people left because they were real assholes.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday September 30, 2011 @02:50PM (#37570544) Journal

    Ok I read TFA and I'm not sure how this is going to work out.

    Amazon has an Android tablet but so heavily disguised you supposedly can't tell it's Android, and there is apparently some kind of appeal in adopting WebOS which they could also heavily disguise to look similar, although it probably won't be compatible with Fire first edition apps. What TFA doesn't say is what this does to the Fire early adopters. Nothing good, I suspect.

    I was interested in the Fire, especially at that price point, but am now going to hold off and see how this plays out, which I recognize is the Osborne Effect revisited, but as much as I like Palm, and as much as I was attracted to the Fire, as a responsible consumer I can't buy every damned thing that comes out and then re-buy it when the *real* product succeeds it. The advantage is that Amazon isn't betting the farm on the Fire, so they can probably handle reduced sales while they work out their strategic direction.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      I will be getting a fire as soon as I hear cyanogenmod is ported to it. Hopefully it won't take too long. That way I have a nice cheap tablet no matter what amazon does in the future.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Yes, but it doesn't have an SD card slot and not much memory. Without the Amazon Cloud behind it, storage is a bit miserly. My phone has more.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          8GB is miserly?
          By what standard? My phone has twice that and I never even use half of it.

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            > 8GB is miserly?

            > By what standard? My phone has twice that and I never even use half of it.

            By the standard that your phone has twice that. :-) So does mine, and I do use it. (Not all users are a like.) In any case, *I'm* looking for a slate to replace the laptop I lug around, not just another device to prove my alpha-geekness, and as such it needs to meet certain requirements. In rule-of-thumb terms, it doesn't need to have the storage of my laptop, but it needs to have more storage than my phon

    • Could they be looking to drop the WebOS UI (or aspects of it) onto an Android core? I haven't done any development in either as of yet, so I don't know how feasible such a thing would be, how integrated into the OS is the Android UI?

    • Interesting term. Wouldn't a "responsible consumer" (from Amazon's POV) buy both? They have recommendations for you, too.

      You're the reason the economy won't recover. /sarcasm

  • Not a bad idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by COMON$ (806135) on Friday September 30, 2011 @02:51PM (#37570566) Journal
    Consider that by buying WebOS they now have claim to the landslide of Touchpads that just sold AND all the positive marketing. Negotiate in a deal for upgrading the software for them, and you have one hell of an advertizing base...instantly. Not to mention owning all the patents as well.
  • I never thought I'd compare WebOS to the slut of the mobile OS world.

    They really get around.

  • The only "good fit" about it is Amazon has stable and competent management.
  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@em a . il> on Friday September 30, 2011 @03:01PM (#37570710) Journal
    I bet the corporate culture at Amazon is better than it is at Palm at the moment, so a merger might be liberating for the employees. This is also great for competition; Android might get some benefits, but I'm looking forward to see how they will leverage their mindshare with their tablet business. It's nice to see another big name giving Apple a run for their money.

    I think Google would have bought them a good while ago if they really wanted them. In fact, I think that they probably considered them before buying out Motorola Mobility and decided on the latter because of their (much) stronger patent portfolio.
  • Take the money. Hopefully a lot but anything. Just take it. After a decade of bad mergers at least HP can shed itself of Palm. Maybe it will pay for the Meg Whitman exit package.
  • If there's a nearly-baked Amazon app for WebOS and they like it, that would go a long way to speeding introduction of webos-branded stuff by amazon.

    Does anyone know any details?

    • by hirschma (187820)

      Um, the Touchpad shipped with the Kindle Reader. It was marked a Beta, but it works very well. And they just updated it a couple of weeks ago.

  • This makes perfect sense to me. With Android, Amazon doesn't have top-to-bottom vertical integration and control, since they still rely on Google to do the core Android development and thus need to either be beholden to Google's timing or continue to work with forks of older versions. If they buy WebOS, they now employ all the programmers and can coordinate all the pieces that go into their tablet. Then could also further develop their EC2-assistance technologies and extend them beyond Silk to further enhan
  • What's left of Palm? There was something _left_ of Palm? I thought they were bought out and gutted and what was left of their assets absorbed by a company that had no interest in maintaining their product line a long time ago (well, a long time ago in internet time -- months and months and months).
  • "Microsoft and Amazon signed a licensing agreement in February last year that covers technology used in the Kindle and various other products. That agreement does not cover Amazon’s new Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet, BGR has learned, which means Amazon could be coughing up hefty licensing fees to Microsoft in the near future" link [bgr.com]
  • I was hoping that HP would open source WebOS, but I don't think there's much chance of that happening if Amazon takes it over. Too bad. Of course, I can't really fault HP for trying to make money from Palm / WebOS if they can.
  • Let's not forget that Palm had a lot of good experience developing simple UIs for use on portable devices and they had some good design ideas for not wasting battery life in applications, either. Some of the PDA functionality that Palm was so good at wouldn't be bad to have on a Kindle, really.

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