HP announced its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm at the end of April, but it wasn't until last week that all the i's had been dotted and the t's crossed. However, now that everything is all signed, sealed and finalized, we learn that Palm came close to belonging to several other companies, ones with far more experience in the smartphone business than HP.
When word first got out, HTC was the obvious buyer to most observers. Caught up in a patent suit with Apple, acquiring Palm's patent portfolio would have given HTC some serious courtroom ammo. However, that deal fell through and once it did, it was anyone's guess who would acquire Palm.
Business Insider reports that there were 16 companies contacted about the deal, with several of them being 'serious suitors.' Citing a source familiar with the situation, the website reports that among these were Apple, Google and BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion.
Apple was after just the thing everyone wanted HTC to use against Cupertino in court: Palm's patent portfolio. However, BI's source says Apple was willing to fund Palm operations, so perhaps they had something else, other than a meadow full of patents, in mind when they made their offer. Apple ultimately lost out because they couldn't, or rather wouldn't, offer enough money. At least, not as much as HP.
Google apparently only wanted it because the search giant didn't want Apple to have it. A reasonable concern to have if you're talking about Apple and 450+ patents (plus another 400 applications on file). Unfortunately, Google wasn't aware Apple was actually serious about it, and therefore unaware that it was actually making an offer, so it didn't proceed with an offer of its own.
Lastly, the suitor which probably would have made the most sense, RIM. With a bid higher than what HP was originally offering, it looked like Palm and Research In Motion were all but ready to make an announcement. BI's source says RIM had the deal in its hands and would have had to "work hard to blow it." Unfortunately, HP got wind of RIM's higher offer and upped their own bid, which RIM couldn't match.
While it's probably safe to say everyone is glad Apple didn't get its hands on all those juicy patents, it's also a shame Palm was bought by a company with so little experience in the smartphone market. Aside from putting WebOS on pretty much every small device it makes, HP gives off the impression that it doesn't really know what to do with Palm. At least if Palm went to Google, RIM or even Apple, we'd know we'd see either Palm phones or phones with Palm features.
Who would you like to have seen purchase Palm?
Check the full story on Business Insider.