Belfast Telegraph

US computer firm stumps up $1bn for Smartphone maker Palm

By Symon Ross

Smartphone maker Palm has been bought by US computer giant Hewlett-Packard in a deal worth $1bn (£652m).

HP, which has extensive operations in Ireland, is buying Palm for $5.70 a share, with a total value of $1.2bn when its debt is included.

Palm was one of the original pioneers of a smartphone market but has been overtaken in recent years by rival products, including Apple's iPhone and BlackBerry, made by RIM.

Last year Palm unveiled a well-reviewed touch-screen phone, the Pre, but the product failed to hit its sales target. HP executive vice president Todd Bradley said the deal would allow it to expand its strategy in web-enabled mobile devices. "Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team," he said.

"The smartphone market is large, profitable and rapidly growing, and companies that can provide an integrated device and experience command a higher share. Advances in mobility are offering significant opportunities, and HP fully intends to be a leader in this market."

Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins founded Palm in 1992, and in 1995 it was bought by US Robotics, a modem maker that itself was bought by 3Com in 1997. Palm was spun off again into a standalone company in 2000.

Palm's current chairman and CEO, Jon Rubinstein, a former Apple executive, is expected to remain with the company.

Mr Rubenstein said the Palm staff looked forward to working with HP.

"HP's longstanding culture of innovation, scale and global operating resources make it the perfect partner to rapidly accelerate the growth of our webOS platform," he said.

It is thought that Dell, one of HP's biggest rivals, was also interested in buying Palm.