A lot has changed since I last posted about a possible Palm and Nokia Union. Nokia has partnered with Intel and merged Moblin with Maemo to create Meego. Palm launched the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus on Verizon but flopped with the launch, thus resulting in an awesome deal for Verizon subscribers (free Mobile Hot Spot!). Apple released the iPad and iPhone OS 4.0, addressing multitasking in a not-so-elegant way and completely overlooking notification reform. Finally, HTC announced the Evo on Sprint, surpassing Palm in the launch of the first 4G phone on their preferred network.
Even though Palm should still have ~$400 million in the bank (which really should be able to keep Palm alive longer than a year if they are focusing on R&D engineering and considering they finally dropped their failure of an advertising partner), there are strong rumors that HTC, Cisco, and Lenevo are in the second round of bidding for Palm, so it's about time I throw in my $0.02 and take another stab at it. Enjoy!
Cisco - Strong Internet-centric company with more than $30 billion in the bank. Powerful media-rich product line including the Flip Mini HD, Telepresence (see the two videos below for a sample), Digital Whiteboard, and of course Linksys. They were also one of the first companies to support Wimax/4G, but despite being the backbone of the Internet and being a fairly open company (WRT54G and specification-wise), they are lacking in one key area and that is smartphones. With Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Nokia growing in significance with mobile platforms and the Internet, Cisco may desire to branch out even further in consumer devices and adopt Palm WebOS as their mobile platform and help bring a better multimedia and connected experience. I would certainly stick with WebOS and Palm devices if Cisco purchased and invested in Palm.
HTC - Produces popular smartphones that currently run Windows Mobile and Android. Hardware revisions seem to hit the market very rapidly in recent months (Touch Pro 2, HD2, Nexus One, Evo). Palm WebOS would benefit from solid hardware with frequent revisions and modern features that compete with Nokia. Palm's patent portfolio in the PDA and smartphone market could help HTC ward off Apple in their present quarrel.
Lenevo - Owner of IBM's laptop and desktop division and demonstrated a cool laptop with a detachable screen tablet called the IdeaPad U1 (see below for video). They are currently using a Linux-based operating system for the detached screen. Lenevo also introduced an Android-based smartphone at CES, but in a quickly fragmented Android marketplace WebOS could prove to be a unique differentiator for Palm. WebOS would also be a great OS for a tablet / iPad competitor (maybe the IdeaPad U2?). The OS could also be licensed to Lenevo as a tablet OS; either way, I would probably buy one.
Don't forget to take a look at Engadget's take on this. Long live Palm and WebOS!