Users on Palm blogs were generally euphoric about Wednesday's announcement that HP will buy the struggling smartphone maker in a deal worth $1.2 billion. But there were skeptics, who offered cautions and raised concerns, ranging from HP's deftness in handling Palm's culture and talent, its close ties to Microsoft, and its overall weakness in the mobile market.
On Palm's official blog, one user named Craig summed it up: "Palm phones = sexy; HP...not. Make the right choices, HP."
A poll at PreCentral showed overwhelming support for the buyout: as of Thursday morning, 88% of voters said the deal was "awesome" and just 12% said it was a "bummer."
"This is the perfect match up," wrote OldSkoolVWLover. "HP can make a serious play into the smartphone market and ditch WiMo [Windows Mobile, which has been a mainstay of HP's iPaq line of handhelds]. Also, they can come out with a WebOS version of the [HP] Slate [a touch tablet running Windows 7 due out in mid-2010] and compete more directly with the iPad. HP also has an S-load of marketing dollars. Wow, I'm excited for what's to come."
Others think the deal will be a turning point in consumer perceptions of Palm and its webOS devices, which have failed so far to catch on. At PreCentral, blkscorpio wrote "I believe the greenlight for WebOS progression has just been signaled to the world, and developers will now flock to WebOS, with HP's name behind it….Those who were on the fence about Palm's existence before, and didn't buy a Pre or Pixi will certainly have no issues anymore."
The size of HP, and its pledge to expand spending for webOS and device R&D, as well as sales and marketing is seen by many as almost automatically translating into benefits.
"Deep-pocketed HP will grow muscles on the new kid WebOS, and immediately expand this platform through its well established hardware infrastructure," wrote gabvoice2, at PalmInfoCenter. "Good move indeed!"
So good that some users reveal high expectations for big, and fast, changes in product offerings. "I gave Palm till June 6th to announce a new bad ass 4G device (not the Pre Plus for Sprint)," writes jarobusa at PreCentral. "HP Deal closes in July. Palm should already have a new phone ready for manufacturing (C40? [A mystery Palm device that's been the source of rumors since last August]). There should be announcement between now and then…They will lose 70% of the people who bought on Sprint last summer if they don't rock our worlds. We love Palm, but we're more loyal to the tech."
A PalmInfoCenter poster who identified himself as "Fake Jeff Hawkins" (referring to a founder of the original Palm Computing and developer of the first Palm Pilot device), writes that "Palm absolutely needed to make a deal this quarter. They would have had to announce an utterly disastrous quarter in a couple of months and this would have taken all remaining wind out of their sails." Time is of the essence, he argues: "webOS is a means of differentiating products in an increasingly commoditized market. HP recognizes this and will hopefully invest the resources needed to QUICKLY develop and properly market webOS."
He listed a jaw-dropping product schedule: "Within 6 months, HP should release the following webOS devices:1) HTC EVO-like (or better) smartphone in both CDMA and unlocked GSM flavors2) Centro 2-like smartphone with 1GHz Snapdragon in both CDMA and unlocked GSM flavors3) Mini tablet-convertible netbook in Foleo form factor that can automatically and intelligently sync all data between a corresponding webOS smartphone +/- cloud-based data."
Some especially enthusiastic users are already predicting the combined companies will, yes, "kill" not only the iPhone but the iPad. At PreCentral, DDT1345 created a haiku-like summary:"HP Slab/Portrait Qwerty Smartphone With webOS = Death Of iPhone.HP Slate 2 With webOS = Death Of iPad.HP + Palm(webOS) > AppleWho's with me Guys?!"