"That country girl has witched your wishes,
all dressed up in her country clothes
and she hasn't got the sense
to hitch her rags above her ankles."
-- "To Andromeda," by Sappho, circa 600 B.C.
That ancient country girl lives on in Palm
Bloomberg reports that Palm has brought in advisers from Goldman Sachs
The company has been bought before, of course. Back when the finest Palm device was a PDA without wireless-phone components, the company was a part of US Robotics, which later got snapped up by 3com, which is now a division of Hewlett-Packard
HP is a long-rumored Palm buyer, but Bloomberg points toward Taiwanese smartphone wrangler HTC and Chinese computer giant Lenovo as the more likely bidders. Dell
Now, what about that country girl? CEO Rubinstein, of former Apple
But the real value of Palm has less to do with the WebOS platform or Pre hardware -- it's all in the brand name, stupid.
Don't expect anybody with a bankable American name of its own to buy Palm. HP and Dell would be better off licensing someone else's software, and maybe outsourcing the hardware side of the equation. That's pretty much what Dell is doing already. Research In Motion
HTC or Lenovo could certainly use a marketable brand like Palm to gain credibility in North America, but only at bargain-basement prices. And if they do buy Palm, the WebOS experience could swiftly vanish into irrelevance. Google's
Private equity firm Elevation Partners holds a 30% stake in Palm, and it would love to keep a few pennies of the big, bad dollar it invested. That's why some kind of deal is likely to happen, even at ridiculously low prices.
But Palm needs to rethink how it presents itself to the world, lest Elevation and other shareholders get stuck with a pittance of a dowry. Palm isn't quite worthless, but it's not far from it, either.