Special Features

Mergers
By: GIG - December 17, 2001

Recently there have been rumors of possible new mergers between various PDA manufactures.  Most have proven to be false (as far as me know), though there is always the possibility that one manufacture might buy another.  The possible HP buying Compaq purchase has brought many question to the market of what would actually happen if two major players got together, and what that might mean to the future of PDA's.

HP and Compaq merge - This merger comes as some what of a surprise since both companies are at relatively the same place financially, though in the PDA market Compaq has the clear advantage.  For the last few years, "Palm" was one of the names people used to refer to PDA's, but now many people are starting to use "iPAQ" in place of Palm.  If the first question about your PDA is not "is that a Palm?", then it likely tends to be "is that an iPAQ?".  Just the iPAQ name not to mention all the sales of previous iPAQ devices makes it now have the name appeal which it will easily hold on to for years to come.  HP on the other had has a device that is just as good (in many respects) as the iPAQ, though the Jornada name is not as well known.  If HP and Compaq merge, most think that the iPAQ would still be produced, though HP could consider taking the iPAQ out of the picture so more people would look at the Jornada as being the top device.

Handspring and Palm merge - Recently this has been a big rumor with the recent resignation of Palm's CEO.  Handspring also has been doing progressively better then Palm which makes people believe Handspring might try and buy out their biggest competitor.  It doesn't seem like this merge would accomplish a whole lot, except stop new Palm devices.  Handspring has recently been a few steps ahead of Palm in the new hardware market, as well as in pricing their new devices lower then Palms.  Palm really has to worry about Handspring and what they are doing, but right now, Handspring really doesn't have to worry all that much about Palm taking away part of their market share.  Plus, if Handspring wishes to create more "multimedia rich" devices, they can always looks to licensing Pocket PC instead of waiting for Palm OS 5.

 Microsoft and Palm merge (buyout) - Though Microsoft is now a Palm OS licensee, chances of it buying Palm are slim.  If Microsoft did, it would now be a definite monopoly in the the PDA market.  Microsoft won't buy Palm.  The reason they won't, is they genuinely feel that the Palm OS is far behind Windows CE, and the chances that it will catch up to CE is slim.  Buying Palm wouldn't really add to the CE technology, since both operating systems are very different.  

How important is the possibility for a merger when buying a device?  Really, it isn't all that big an issue.  The largest problem you will have is losing support directly from the company.  Usually when a company gets bought, it takes quite a while till support services actually disappear.  Remember these are big companies, so they aren't going to just disappear over night.  Buying a device from Compaq or Palm is not a bad choice, even if there is the possibility that that company could disappear in the coming year.  
 

Feel free to email me about your own PDA, questions, comments, articles, rumors, and reviews.  I can be reached at dave@davespda.com.