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HP to buy struggling Palm for big smartphone push

has knocked some pretty wide-ranging speculation on the head and announced that it is to for $5.70 per share, or around $1.2 billion.

HP’s presence in the smartphone market has been low-key so far. Acquiring Palm brings it the company’s WebOS platform and gives it a fighting chance of catching up with the likes of RIM and .

“Palm’s innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP’s mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected “said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP’s Personal Systems Group.

“Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team. The smartphone market is large, profitable and rapidly growing, and companies that can provide an integrated device and experience command a higher share. Advances in mobility are offering significant opportunities, and HP intends to be a leader in this market.”

Palm’s current chairman and CEO, Jon Rubinstein, is expected to remain with the company.

In recent weeks, speculation has been rife about a potential acquisition of Palm. The company reported a frankly rotten performance in its third quarter results in March, recording a net loss of $22 million for the quarter.

At about the same time, ComScore published market share figures showing that Palm’s US market share had fallen to just 5.7 percent.

Dell, , , RIM and Nokia have all been rumoured as potential buyers – practically everybody except HP, really.

The deal is expected to close by the end of July.

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