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The $100 Million Question

Elevation Partners Agrees to Invest Additional $100 Million in Palm


For some reason Palm always seems to suffer from malicious rumours of all sorts and in the last few weeks these have included speculation that Elevation Partners (its largest individual shareholder following a $325 million investment for 25% of the company back in 2007) might be looking to sell its stake in the company as well as the fact that due to ongoing losses Palm may not have enough cash to adequately fund the launch of its new NOVA OS and (Palm Quatro ?) smartphones in 2009.

Thanks to a new cash injection of $100 million agreed by Elevation Partners yesterday for the purchase of Palm preferred shares convertible into stock at $3.25 a share as well as warrants to purchase an additional 7 million shares at that price we at least get to see some positive Palm news for a change.

Clearly Elevation’s new investment just two weeks before Palm’s “New-ness” unveiling at CES would seem to indicate a very strong vote of confidence on the part of the company that both the new NOVA OS and Palm Quatro smartphones will be “mind-blowing” as some have hinted.

In a press release, Elevation co-founder Roger McNamee stated that: "We believe that Palm is in a position to transform the cell phone industry, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to make this additional investment in the company.  Palm has an industry-leading team and an exciting, differentiated product roadmap.  We are proud to be associated with the company and look forward to great things from Palm in 2009 and beyond”.

At this point nobody knows exactly what NOVA OS will offer us when unveiled at CES but below you’ll find at least a few thoughts about my expectations:

  • A stunning Graphical User Interface (GUI) that makes it a pleasure to interact with as well as being ultra-fast and ultra-intuitive (basically more of the fabulous Zen of Palm that previous Treo smartphones offered).
  • A full multithreading OS that allows you to run multiple applications simultaneously (including WiFi, GPS and more).
  • Best-in-class open source Linux components that have been optimized to provide a flexible, customizable and open operating system that makes it ultra-easy for third-party developers to create applications.
  • Superb built-in applications for communications (Phone, SMS, eMail, IM, Browser), entertainment (video, music, streaming) productivity (PIM Contacts, Calendar, Notes/Memos, Tasks, MS Office Documents) information (Maps, GPS, Weather, Stocks, Calculator, RSS, Clock/Alarm), and social media (Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, etc).
  • Native over-the-air synchronization (“Cloud” sync) of the entire smartphone and also a full-featured desktop synchronization software with high-speed access to all data included on device and memory cards with full screen control and access to on-board apps and settings.
  • Support for multiple application environments including NOVA OS, Garnet OS (compatible with existing Palm OS applications) and also JAVA (to run most existing mobile JAVA applications).
  • Support for stylus + touch + full QWERTY keyboard interfaces with accelerometer (G-sensor) + handwriting recognition (new Graffiti).
  • Support for large 800 x 480 pixels resolution displays with 256,000 colours in portrait and landscape modes with video-out port.
  • Completely new one-click application installer.

Palm Secures Additional $100 Million Equity Investment from Elevation Partners [Palm Press Release]

Treonauts always feel like a million bucks

Posted by Andrew on December 23, 2008 at 12:48 PM

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by What a joke | Dec 23, 2008 1:18:18 PM

This website loses more and more credibility daily.

"malicious rumours"?

FACT: "the fact that due to ongoing losses Palm may not have enough cash to adequately fund the launch of its new NOVA OS and (Palm Quatro ?) smartphones in 2009."

Obviously, Palm's losses are FACT not "malicious rumor". The lack of adequate funding is also FACT. The cash from Elevation Partners is proof of Palm's failing business and inadequate financial position.

"At this point nobody knows exactly what NOVA OS will offer us when unveiled at CES but below you’ll find at least a few thoughts about my expectations:"

How ironic the ONLY rumor contained in the article are those of the author's own opinions!

Careful observers will also note the prior lack of reporting negative Palm financial news.

The reality is that both Apple and RIM have dealt Palm with a nearly impossible market position, and the FACT is that Palm marketshare is no longer sufficient to maintain a viable company.

by Glenn | Dec 23, 2008 5:35:01 PM

I continue to find comments like "mind blowing", "out of this world", "unbelievable" out there on the web regarding Palm and the new Nova OS. I'm beginning to believe it. Apparently a new devise was shown to a group of 16 year old boys and they went ABSOLUTELY NUTS over the devise. I anticipate I too will go nuts over this/these new devices. I have always loved Palm and currently use a Palm Treo 755P which I can't imagine life without, so I do want to believe. January 9'th 2009 will be a very interesting day.

by Marc | Dec 23, 2008 10:41:54 PM

This site often doesn't report on stories of a negative nature. Articles such as Palm's perilous financial condition or their eroding market share never get posted on treonauts.com.

by dgarts | Dec 28, 2008 11:40:37 AM

Today, I will do the heretofore unimagined - I'll defend Palm, Andrew and this site.

If you want to read about Palm "as it is" through the eyes of journalists who "don't get it"; if you want to read about Palm "as it is" in its current market position... it will seem negative, because the market doesn't really understand what Palm OS is all about.

Yes, Andrew has the Palm Kool-Aid on tap and chugs it from a stein you could also swim in. BUT...

The "PDA concept" had been best manifested through Palm up until recently. Part of Palm's success lead to its failure - the OS was SO GOOD, it hasn't had to change much and still does so much of what we really need.

Granted, RIM has taken the communication aspect to new heights (and I'm a proud Canadian);

Granted, iPhone has taken the interface and play/media factor to new heights.

Yet, the core reason I use a PDA - to manage my life information - is still best served on my Treo 680.

When the Palm OS came out, communications and entertainment were not the primary goals. Times have changed, and people want their PDAs to do more. Fair enough.

I'm still using my trusty Treo 680 because I've got it doing what I need it to do, with the 3rd party apps that speak to my personal life needs. It's not as glitzy and glamorous as the iPhone, not as rock solid a phone/email/communicator as the Blackberry, but it's sufficient.

Well, no, it's not. I want wi-fi. I want a better desktop that supports boolean search. I want to know that the new OS won't force me to have to go out and by all new software.

Thus I, like many others, wait. Wait to see if Palm can step up. Others are not so hopeful, or couldn't wait, and have moved on to blackberrier pastures; but, if Palm gets it right, some of them will be back.

If Palm drops the ball this time, and dashes our hopes with anything less than a base-clearing grand slam, we won't be able to wait any longer, and will finally face the fact that Palm OS is truly dead. This is no time for small ball - a walk, a steal, an error, a balk, a wild pitch...a change to expansion slot location here, a new battery door latch there...we need the deft swing, contact, to see the pitcher look straight up and then straight down at his shoes, and to hear "it's going, going, gone!"

So, what do we do in the meantime? That's the point of this post. What else can Andrew do? We've got to somehow stay positive in the dugout. No use re-hashing the mistakes that have been made and are well documented, the striking out looking, the casual walk to first when a little hustle might have beat the throw from left field, the poor attempt to throw out the steal at 2nd that sent the ball into centre and the runner over to 3rd, the poor decision to let the pitcher work through it in the 6th when his pitch count was already at 130...

Nah, let the rest of the media do that, and we know they will. In this dugout, we've got to provide the alternative view, the positive spin. Keep talking about why we loved Palm in the first place; keep hoping the folks at Palm have been paying attention and taking notes and remembering themselves what life was like when they were leading and not trailing behind.

When it's time to throw in the towel and abandon ship, we'll know. But that time is not now. Not yet.

by hoping for palm | Dec 29, 2008 12:57:06 AM

Very nicely said dgarts. Let's hope for a great new os from palm, and for your sake, one that came stream baseball games or the like.

by cvb | Dec 29, 2008 4:26:25 AM

“When it's time to throw in the towel and abandon ship, we'll know. But that time is not now. Not yet.“

Is it fair to state that “time”/judgement day as being January 9, 2009?


by CMO | Dec 29, 2008 1:24:09 PM

I hope they respect the 100s or 1000s of developers that have stayed loyal to Palm OS. I do not care if HotSync is gone as long as it is replaced with something better. Getting data to the desktop is one are where Palm shines. USB drives and card readers are easy and standard. If I can run my Palm apps and get the data to my desktop then its all good. If I have to buy all new apps then they failed.

I think it will be easy for developers re-work the desktop data syncing side, even without HotSync as we know it today.

by GiG | Dec 29, 2008 4:17:26 PM

Yes CVB that "time"/judgement day is January 9th, 2009 for sure!

Excellent write up "dgarts"! I agree! I appreciate all what Andrew is trying to do. And let's be honest here, Andrew has written a very emotional plea and has shown great disappoinment towards Palm in the not too distant past. So yes, he may be slightly biased like any true loyalist, but he is not blind.
I see this site and Andrew as optomistic towards Palm, and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Palm has made some heavy mistakes, but they are trying to make up for it, and have shown definitive progress.

I'm holding on to my Treo 650 (even though I am being ridiculed by those who see it and have moved on, or up) and waiting for the new O.S. and the devices that are going to go with it. I would rather wait and save my money on buying the new, than buying a temporary replacement.

I think Palm will hit it out the park; I am a loyal Palm user; I will stay positive until Palm shows absolutely that they don't care about their market, and that will be proved one way or the other January 9th '09.

Thanks Andrew!

by dmm | Dec 29, 2008 10:33:42 PM

Amen to dgarts and GiG. I think many of us here are loyal Palm users who are cautiously optimistic about Nova, and while we may be eagerly awaiting the news at CES, we've been burned enough before so as not to get carried away. Still, I suggested to my local PUG that we set up a meeting for the evening of 1/8, with the hope that there's something to celebrate.

And I agree that Palm needs a big hit here. They need to show what it is that puts the "wow" in Elevation's and Mike Bell's recent comments, and it needs to be big. For you football fans in the US, it's like being down by 14 points and needing 2 quick touchdowns before the clock runs out. I'd say that the Treo Pro was Palm's last field goal in this game.

Having held off on getting a Treo Pro this far (largely for financial reasons at my end, though also because of the time/effort involved), I'm looking now to wait until CES, hoping that Palm will offer a new phone running Nova, and in particular one that's available soon for GSM (unlocked). That would seem to be one of the fastest ways to get it to market, given that they haven't been demoing anything for carriers--or just started lately, if at all. While I don't expect the hardware of this Nova phone to be an absolute clone of the Pro, something very Pro-like would be a good fit for me, and given Palm's history with that form factor, a significant possibility.

Knock on wood...

by Gary | Dec 30, 2008 11:41:21 PM

A grand slam huh? At this point, Palm is down 10 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. They will need more than a grandslam. And yes, January 9 will be the DOA date for Palm if they come up short. Palm rested on its laurels for far too long. The Palm 650 was released FIVE YEARS AGO. I own a Palm Treo Pro. Its a nice device but did it wow me? Hardly. The specs are very cheap for a $550.00 device. I have a feeling Palm will release a decent OS but in the age of HTC devices, it won´t be a moving platform. I will not be surprised if Apple or HTC will buy out Palm on the cheap.

by Q | Dec 31, 2008 12:21:56 AM

I don't really want just two or three serious contenders in the smart phone market. As such, we all have a stake in seeing Palm succeed. I put my Mom's Iphone and my Cousin's Blackberry side by side and in my opinion they were distinctly different devices meeting very different needs. All Palm really has to do is mesh the two devices and I'll be happy. I can't really see dealing with an Iphone without a hard keyboard, maybe I'm clumsy, but I'm just not that accurate typing messages on my touch. The Blackberry just didn't seem fun and I found it limiting having only one physical interface between the user and the phone. I don't think 9 Jan is it for Palm. There is a fat market space between the Iphone and Blackberry and if Palm can do something significant before Android locks it down I think Palm has the potential to be very successful.

by dgarts | Dec 31, 2008 10:40:46 AM

Q, I wish the media understood the very distinct market segments that exist - a smartphone is a smartphone is a smartphone...NOT.

This may seem long and drawn out, but for the sake of internet knowledge, I'll take the time to lay it out "my way", the way I see it in my mind.

Palm OS is a true PIM-first device. It's for managing information. It was built before communications and entertainment were thought could exist on a shared small screen platform.

Blackberry has become the standard in mobile communication (phone, email, txt). It's rock solid in this capacity. It was not built for people looking for a PIM first. It is a phone first, a true "smartphone" in my book. Only recently have they acknowledged the PIM-first orientation of a touchscreen, long after it had established its leadership in the mobile phone space ( more on this later)...

It has always had a physical keyboard, like Palm, unlike iPhone (discussed below). It was deployed for business people first, people who would not be assumed as techie enough to fix their own glitches, so it had to be solid so IT could support a field deployment with a minimum of cost due to flaky functionality. Treo had that space and dropped the ball, the Palm OS was just to glitchy and unreliable for the professional application. That's when the RIM people thought "hey, we can do it better." And they have, from that communications standpoint.

Funny thing is, when I talk to friends who have Blackberrys (not only consumers but even managers and office people using what their companies gave them) and I say "what are you doing next Thursday" the first thing they do is think, they do not automatically reach for their BB and check their calendar. And whatever is in their calendar is only there because of syncronization with Outlook or Lotus Notes; their personal info is not (partially also due to wanting to keep their personal info off a company device, or limitations from their IT policy, whatever). They don't keep a lot of notes in their BB, it's basically the phone, email, text, and contacts (because of the phone/email/text); in general, they do not have a PIM culture about them. I never hear a BB person talking about "hotsyncing" or backing up, or worrying about expansion slots or carrying extra batteries or watching movies on their BB...it's "just a smartphone."

I grudgingly mention Windoze Mobile here because, like so many things Microsoft, they don't necessarily compete solely on funtionality and quality, but by leveraging their position in related segments. Because Microsoft Exchange has such penetration into the corporation communications market space, a Windoze PDA will be (assumed to be) more seamlessly intergrated into a professional deployment (although truth be told, many will say Documents to Go on Palm OS handles Office docs BETTER than a Windoze Mobile, no surprise to me here).

Windoze, then, has market share in that professional space that BB waged war on, and is winning, due in part, I'll bet, to the interface. While I'm not a major fan of the BB interface (I am a Palm guy), I'd probably still prefer it over a Windoze machine. Even after working on a PC for so many years, I assumed I could just pick up a Windoze machine and make it go, and I constantly find myself asking "how do you do this?" or "where can I find that". Maybe I'm slow, but then somehow I manage to make my Palm go - I listen to my MP3s, watch full movies and do all kinds of other things - so that just speaks more again to Palm's simplicity.

iPhone, from Mac, is more a niche entertainment/media platform. Shucks, it doesn't even support cut/paste (how's that for information management relegation?) For all the iPod fans, this was just a way to reduce the number of devices they had to carry - it's basically an iPod with a phone in it. I know, that's not really the extent of it, it's really a fantastic piece of hardware (as Macs tend to be) and has pushed the envelope of "what's possible" in a hardware configuration.

So, you're right. They really are not competing for the very same demographic. Palm ought to recognize that the Palm OS loyal base is PIM-first oriented, but as, in this "information age", managing our personal information is increasingly done through the internet, the communications functionality of the phone BECOMES an integral part of the support of the PIM activities. As such, poor Palm OS has been stretched as far as its original kernel was designed to go, in fact beyond that, which is why it doesn't work so well doing the "new things" we have now come to need.

The Centro was cute, compact and all that, but obviously against the above rubric it was not geared to stroke the heavy Palm user, but to speak to the growing market for cellphones. Notice I didn't even discuss "cellphones" above. A PDA is more than just a cellphone, but most people are introduced to the concept of a PDA first through having a cellphone, with the contacts as a natural extension, and interaction with these two components drives a need to write down an appointment or make a note on some thought or whatever... the aged Palm OS makes a great cellphone OS that far outmuscles anything else out there for the neophyte just discovering there's more to a cellphone than just talking.

And all this is part of why so many of us, after so much disappointment, still haven't been quite able to just ditch Palm OS altogether and grab a solid BB or gorgeous iPhone. Because we know neither will give us the experience we've come to not only depend on but enjoy. We can get choice of exactly the 3rd party software we need to be what we are and do what we do. We get simplicity, intuitivity (if that's even a word) or intuitiveness I guess I can say...

iPhone has released a SDK, which will help it be a customizable platform. That bodes well for its success (it was one of Palm's original key winning strategies). Blackberry is introducing its touchscreen. Both companies are well respected for their hardware/software success, and they are plying that success towards filling up the segment spaces with these moves - they're now taking direct aim at us PIM-first loyalists who've been neglected by Palm.

This is putting pressure on Palm to fill in its space strongly, because before too long there will be a legitimate replacement for us hardcore Palm PDA/PIM-first users from either or both of these. And we haven't even mentioned Android...

One last note. I know people who went from having "a cellphone" to using a BB and now using an iPhone. Interestingly, it's the cell-to-iPhone users that are exploding in "doing other things" besides talk/text. The iPhone is expanding their use of PIM functions.

One iPhone toting buddy of mine, however, is thinking he may go back to BB! He just doesn't interact with his handheld in a way that clearly connects him to the value of the functionalities.

In other words, different strokes for different folks. Some people just are not inclined to manage their personal information with the help of an electronic organizer. So be it, it's a free country.

For those of us who "do everything" on our PDAs, rest assured that if indeed Palm fails in a few weeks, by the time the devices we are currently using fall apart, there will be viable alternatives to migrate to; what will be interesting to see is whether iPhone or Blackberry Storm will be able to offer us a customizability experience to which we've been accustomed with Palm, that 3rd party community in both camps needs to grow!

by dp | Jan 7, 2009 2:13:49 PM

Here's some "malicious rumours" for ya:


Where did the (usually respectable) Gartner Research find the idiot who thinks that Linux is "a proprietary operating system"??

Furthermore, am I mistaken in thinking that any (smart) mobile device developer would be doing ALL their development in Java (with minor, device-specific bits if needed), so they could deploy it onto Treos, iPhones, WinMo devices & Blackberries??

by dmm | Jan 7, 2009 3:00:05 PM

It's possible that the quote was from someone referring to Nova as a whole, rather than its Linux underpinnings. That might be described as proprietary. They've leased Garnet in perpetuity (and can't license it, under their terms with ACCESS); they talk about wanting to be in control of their own destiny without any mention of any kind of licensees... which prompted FierceWireless to dub Palm a likely casualty of the OS wars in their mobile predictions this week. I hope not; it's do or die for Palm, though.

That said, that quote should have been much clearer.

And yes, many developers (apart from those with platform-specific apps) will opt to code in Java.

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