HP Wants to Read Your Palm

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) is finally putting some muscle behind its recent Palm purchase.

HP's Palm Pre 2 will be available in France come Friday. Verizon Wireless -- the market-leading partnership of Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD  ) -- targets a stateside release in the coming months.

The new smartphone won't be alone. HP is also rolling out a refreshed version of Palm's revolutionary webOS platform. Version 2.0's features include more intuitive grouping of related apps and integration of Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) latest Flash player.

Despite these cool features, is HP too late to make a difference in the smartphone market? Early adopters have already seen Palm come undone, but HP has the financial and marketing muscle to make consumers forget about its recent acquisition's shortcomings as a stand-alone company. But even mighty HP and its bankroll may not have the power to make webOS 2.0 relevant.

Palm Pre sputtered against what was then a smaller base of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone users. The challenge has only grown, given the more than 14 million iPhone 4 handsets sold in the past three months alone. Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android was just a baby when the Pre hit the market; now it's a beast. Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) finally out this month with its highly anticipated Windows Phone 7.

In other words, webOS failed a year ago against lighter competiton. Can HP make a proprietary platform work in a market where Android and WP7 are easily available to every handset maker and wireless carrier? Are Apple's iOS and BlackBerry's platform too established to tackle head-on? Is the Palm Pre 2 superior enough to the original to make a dent in this booming market?

That's the million-dollar question. Or, going by what HP spent on Palm, the $1.2 billion question.

Do you think Palm Pre 2 and webOS 2.0 have a shot? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple and Adobe Systems are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pecked away at this article on an HP computer, but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2010, at 1:30 PM, islesfan44 wrote:

    webOS and the Palm Pre were clearly superior to the other competitors out there when it was released, but it was doomed from the start by a small marketing budget and a poor marketing strategy. Apple has convinced a large number of people (I call them iDiots) who will buy ANYTHING with the magical fruit on the back. That is all marketing. People have been convinced that they must have Apple products or they will suffer from terminal un-coolness. Android countered this in two ways, by blanketing the smartphone market with tons of Android phones, and by licensing the "Droid" term from George Lucas. Everyone knows the "Drooooid" sound from TV. Everyone hears it every time the person next to them gets a text. Never mind that the platform is weaker than the iPhone, and certainly weaker than webOS, it is entrenched in the mindset.

    Palm comes along with the Pre, and they hire the creepy albino lady as their spokesperson. Then, they opt for lots of product placement in TV and film, as opposed to running actual adds. The problem? Most of the handsets they placed in the hands of TV characters were non-functional dummies. So, several times a week, we saw myriad characters on 24, Bones, FlashFoward, Castle, and more whip out their shiny new Pres, slide them open to answer a call, and the viewer never saw what the product in action. Then, to rub salt into the wound, after Jack Bauer put his Pre away, we cut to a commercial for... the iPhone!

    I am hoping that HP, who knows marketing and has more money than Palm did, can bring this superior platform to the forefront where it belongs. All it takes is marketing!

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2010, at 4:09 PM, langco1 wrote:

    hp could have found a better ceo with a palm reader...a sell on this one!!!

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2010, at 12:56 PM, CatHatMan wrote:

    i own a pre+ and i think palm/hp needs to make it more square; squares are the thing to have today that and we need some cool sound for people to identify with it. mabye we could have skimask guy do the new commircials.

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