Oracle considered purchasing Palm to jump into the smartphone business | webOS Nation
 
 

Oracle considered purchasing Palm to jump into the smartphone business 38

by Derek Kessler Tue, 17 Apr 2012 9:52 pm EDT

Oracle considered purchasing Palm or RIM to jump into the smartphone business

April 2010 brought the surprise announcement that HP was purchasing Palm for $1.2 billion. It wasn't a surprised that Palm was for sale or that they had found somebody to buy them up, the surprise was that it was HP. Of all the companies that had been rumored, HP had never come up in discussions (aside from the ramblings of a crazed lunatic of a blogger back in December 2009). But there were plenty of other companies that had considered that purchase, and today Larry Ellison confirmed in court testimony that his company - Oracle - had considered snapping up Palm back in the day.

According to The Wall Street Journal, covering the finally-happening trial between Google and Oracle over the former's use of the latter's Java language as the basis for Android app coding, Ellison dished out that Oracle has for some time tinkered with the thought of entering the mobile space. Among them was a purchase of an existing mobile company, like Palm or BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion. Ellison noted that HP eventually purchased Palm, placing the period of Oracle's interest in late 2009 or early 2010. As for RIM, Ellison stated that the Canadian phone maker was too expensive at the time - RIMM's market cap stood at around $35 billion at the time, today RIMM is valued at around $7 billion (which happens to be right around RIM's 'book value' - cash and investments plus physical assets like buildings, factory equipment, servers, land, etc), still nearly six times what HP was willing to pay for Palm.

Of course, HP ended up buying Palm with the intention of taking a hands-off approach, then forced out the CEO that made the purchase, hired a CEO from an enterprise software firm who sent chills down our spine, announced three new webOS products, shipped one and then two, cancelled all of them, fired a CEO again, tried to sell the OS and couldn't, and then fell back to pushing webOS to open source. Amusingly, Oracle was a name floated the second time webOS was for sale, though apparently they didn't feel like writing a check to HP either.

How could things have been different under Oracle? It's hard to say - it would have been their first foray into the consumer space (outside of Java, which Oracle purchased from Sun Microsystems in 2010). Would the company have taken a hands-off approach like HP was supposed to, or would the ever-outspoken Larry Ellison have had his way with Palm? If we had to guess, they probably would have taken the quasi-independent subsidiary route that Google appears to be taking with Motorola, but how that might have turned out differently for Palm and webOS, only in the Fringe universe do they have an answer. One thing's for sure: we would have had so much fun with an outspoken and no-nonsense Ellison leading the webOS charge.

38 Comments

Larry will never compete with Apple

having the alternate universe folks on fringe using palm phones would be a great easter egg.

In some of the early shows of fringe Olivia Dunham used a palm pre.

Oracle is a Patent troll all they want is to sue Google to death then everyone else I hope it does not happen

Oracle is one of the largest enterprise tech companies out there. They are three times larger than HP, by market cap. They are not a patent troll. Emails show that the original developer of Android told the Google founders that they would have to license Java from Sun/Oracle and they chose not too. Acording to your logic does a company have any rights to protect software it owns?

ahhh....woulda, coulda, shoulda!

No way of saying what the outcome would have been, maybe webOS under Oracle would have been very different, maybe refocused on the enterprise market even, maybe it would have been changed in ways we wouldn't have liked, who knows?

With that being said however, I do think Ellison isn't the type to give up just a year into ANYTHING, so I suppose that at least webOS devices would still be in the stores and available from the carriers.

speaking of your prophetic post Derek, I just went back and read the comments from that post. This one caught my eye...

"HP, culturally speaking, would be a terrible fit unless you wanted to completely kill off whatever existed of Palm, and butcher WebOS, then after it was butchered, release it as open source years later once it is irrelevant"

of course you would have to change "years" to "a year"

not everything in those comments were prophetic...there was this....
"Google. I love everything they are doing lately. Anyone else on Google Wave. I'm loving it'

but I digress....

Oh man that is awesome. Where is aditya now? I need stock advice.

Wow!!! I need to talk to Aditya for my Megamillions lottery numbers!

I noticed that too... great prediction by aditya there... very impressive :)

Wow! It would have been so cool to see webOS installed on every [whatever it is oracle makes]. I would have definitely picked one up at [whatever place sells them] just to try it out. This would have been a great smartphone OS for [whatever people buy Oracle stuff].

Here's what the logo would have looked like [Photoshop of whatever the Oracle logo is combined with whatever the webOS logo is].

Larry Ellison couldn't have been any worse than [whoever is to blame for the webOS screwup].

Awesome comments ROFL!

I gave up on WebOS and went to [whatever OS /device each of us are using at the moment].

Interesting how Dieter thought it would be better for Palm to open source webOS rather than be sold.

Oracle is an enterprise software company. The main reason why things went so badly for Palm under HP is because they got a new CEO who tried to turn the whole joint into an enterprise software company. So... it really wouldn't have turned out any better.

If they had bought Palm, this whole fight with Google would have taken a new level, and I'm sure regulators and courts would have been a lot harder with Oracle, preceiving them to be anti-competitive. Not to say they aren't now, but with a small webOS app catalog and a huge Android Market/Google Play built on Java, the courts (and the public) would not have been friendly to Oracle at all, and there might have been public backlash.
 
Ah, to think about what might have been.

what's more interesting would be to hear the reasons why they did NOT buy palm rather then the what ifs.

Oracle had no experience nor presence in the consumer business.
Oracle sells stuff and services to enterprise. Totally diffferent market.

I don't see any article stating Oracle's statement as to why they did not buy Palm. I saw one stating why they didn't buy RIM: too expensive. No reason why they didn't buy Palm. You've stated facts but not any words from the horses mouth which is what i am interested, Oracle's statements. Regardless if they would have bought RIM but for the cost clearly not being in consumer markets wasn't something holding them back.

Ars Technica is reporting "Ellison ultimately decided that Palm's technology wasn't competitive, and RIM was too expensive."
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/04/google-v-oracle-day-2.ars

gonna read that now. thanks for posting the link. i don't often read Ars Technica

yeah that's a good article. Ellison is under cross from David Bois. An extremely accomplished attorney. That's rough statement on Palm at the time, that the "technology wasn't competitive."

It looks like Larry is crushing that Pre in his hand.

This would have been interesting however, the image above shows Ellison IN the fringe universe already. Compare the images.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3c/Larry_Elllison_...

That or Derek has WAY too much time on his hand perfecting his photoshop skills.

Derek is just really damn good. Or so he keeps saying.

Stories like this just reinforce the outside perception that webOS was never as good as we think it is, because unlike other platforms (RIM, Symbian isn't speculating) we keep harping on what we could have been absent of what has happened.

We may be the Boston Red Sox, pre-2004, but we won't change that if we keep looking back.

I’ll just say this is a really good article. I’ve enjoyed reading it and pondering the many points you make.
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