Friday, September 09, 2005

mergers, acquisitions, and platitudes

In today's business news:
Japanese mobile content delivery provider Access said Friday it was acquiring PalmSource, the company spun off from handheld device maker Palm to develop the Palm operating system software, for about $324.3 million, or an 83 percent premium.

The $18.50 per share offer from Access represents $8.41 more than PalmSource’s closing price of $10.09 Thursday.

The announcement drove PalmSource shares sharply higher Friday, up $7.82, or 78 percent, to $17.91 in recent trading...

-- "Access Buys PalmSource",
I can't say I'm surprised. I could reminisce about my brief stint at PalmSource, reflecting on what misguidance I witnessed from the inside, but I've sung that song before. The bigger story here is this: Americans don't want PDAs.

In fact, very few people want PDAs or handheld computers; even in Asian markets where an actual majority of the population loves and buys new tech like there's no tomorrow, the killer app is not a calendar or address book, it's a telephone. If your new phone happens to have a calendar, address book, digital camera, wireless net access, mp3 player, etc. built in, so much the better. But if you can't use it to talk to your friends-- no sale.

The Treo is a step in the right direction, but it's still got it backwards-- we don't want a computer that happens to also be a phone, we want a phone that also happens to be a computer and can do lots of cool stuff. All that cool stuff is secondary to the primary purpose-- communication.

Remember those cheesy long distance commercials? "Reach out and touch someone", "I won't drift away", and so on. The Bell monopoly was ugly, but they knew their business.

UPDATE 9/12: Apparently, so does eBay, who just bought Skype for $2.6 billion.

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