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1Quick Facts on the Evolution of Palm From Palm Pilot PDA to HP Acquisition

Founded in 1992 as Palm Computing, and acquired in 1995 by U.S. Robotics Corp., Palm released its first handheld product, the Palm Pilot in 1996. Silicon Valley was abuzz about the handheld device, like the Apple’s failed Newton, but with handwriting recognition software called Graffiti that actually worked.

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Back then one of the creators was said to have carried a wooden block around in his pocket for a few weeks in order to get the form factor right. The device was designed with the end-user’s preferences in mind.

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The Palm Pilot personal digital assistant included calendaring and contact information, instant-on capabilities, an LCD screen, a stylus and handwriting recognition. Early peripherals included a keyboard and a modem.

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The first devices – the Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000 – included 128k of RAM and 512k of RAM, respectively.

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Palm eventually dropped the "Pilot" part of the name due to a legal dispute.

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Palm, the company, changed hands once again in 1997 when 3Com grabbed U.S. Robotics in an acquisition and got Palm along with it.

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In 1998 Palm inventors and company founders Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky and Ed Colligan – unhappy with where 3Com was taking their baby – founded a company called Handspring, which developed the Palm OS-based Visor and Treo PDAs.

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They might have stayed. But 3Com executives decided to spin off Palm two years later. In preparation for that, Palm was reincorporated in 1999 and then spun off in an IPO in 2000. 3Com still retained about 80 percent ownership of Palm after the IPO.

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A semi-independent Palm again continued its mission to create PDAs and eventually smartphones, amid growing competition in the early days of the 2000s.

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In 2003 Palm acquired Handspring, with Dubinsky saying the two companies would reach profitability sooner together than apart.

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But transitioning to the competitive smartphone market from the PDA space proved a challenge in a market that included RIM’s BlackBerry and also eventually Apple’s iPhone, both of which whittled away at Palm’s market share.

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Palm says its devices are sold by carriers, distributors and resellers.

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In 2009 Palm set about staging a comeback with the introduction of its webOS and the Palm Pre smartphone to showcase that webOS.

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The Palm webOS debuted in mid-2009. Palm says webOS is a standards-based OS designed for mobile use to run on a variety of hardware form factors and to support a multi-year roadmap of mobile devices.

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Palm’s webOS was designed to go up against other mobile operating systems such as Apple’s iPhone smartphone OS and Google’s Android OS.

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Palm webOS is based on the Linux kernel, supports a touch screen, and includes additional proprietary features from Palm, and premiered on the Palm Pre in June 2009.

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Palm’s webOS supports core capabilities including contacts, calendar, tasks memos, phone, browser, email, messaging, camera, phone viewer and audio/video player.

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The Palm webOS allows for applications multitasking, which lets users keep multiple apps open at the same time and easily move from one to another. Apple’s iPhone has been faulted for not offering this capability.

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The Palm Synergy functionality combines a user’s calendar, email, contacts and messaging apps and provides a "synergy" view of them – aggregated information from different locations such as Microsoft Outlook and Google and Facebook.

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Palm webOS applications are written using Palm Mojo, an application framework based on HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript.

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Palm has created mobile app store similar to ones used by Apple iPhone users and Google Android users.

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As of May 2009, a month before the official launch of webOS, Palm had just 939 employees, of whom 111 were in supply chain, 517 were in engineering, 177 were in sales and marketing and 134 were in general and administrative roles.

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Palm’s smartphone market share shrank to 1.5 percent in 2009 compared to the 3.5 percent it enjoyed in 2005.

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Palm reported annual total revenue of $735.87 million for the year ended May 31, 2009 compared with $1.32 billion for the year ended May 31, 2008.

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Palm reported total revenue of $349.9 million for the quarter ended Feb. 28, 2010, and a net loss of $18.53 million. That compares to total revenue of $90.62 for the same period a year ago and a net loss of $95.02 million.

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Even though that last quarter sounded better, Palm has warned that its revenue for the quarter that ends at the end of May 2010 would fall in the range of $90 million to $100 million compared to the company’s previous forecast of less than $150 million. Plus, Palm said it would close the quarter with $350 million to $400 million in cash, down from $600 million at the end of February.

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On April 28, as its HP Americas Partner Conference drew to a close, HP announced it would buy the struggling Palm with its webOS for $1.2 billion. Speculation quickly arose that HP had plans to include Palm’s webOS not just in smartphones, but also in HP’s planned line of tablet computers.

HP Buys Palm for $1.2B, Targets iPhone, Android, iPad

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Reports say that HP is canceling its previously planned Microsoft Windows 7-based Slate tablet product and is planning a new tablet called Hurricaine that incorporates the Palm webOS.

HP ‘Hurricane’ Tablet with webOS Coming Soon: Report