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Old 09-09-2005, 07:33 AM   #1
Bob Russell
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Japanese firm to acquire PalmSource

The Japanese firm ACCESS, makers of the Netfront browser software, has paid a little over $300 million to aquire PalmSource. PalmSource is, of course, the maker of PalmOS. This purchase reflects a premium price of about $18.50 per share, so those who had enough faith recently in PalmSource to keep stock were rewarded. It also would seem to be a bargain price for the acquisition.

According to the press release, "Ed Colligan, Palm, Inc. president and chief executive officer said, 'Palm's award-winning user experience and application expertise, combined with ACCESS' leading software development capabilities, will allow us to continue to deliver great products for our customers. ACCESS is currently a software technology partner and we look forward to continuing our strong working relationship to advance the Palm OS platform.'"

The $64,000 question -- What will this mean for PalmOS and Palm, Inc?
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Old 09-09-2005, 07:52 AM   #2
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There are some interesting posts from PalmSource people over at PalmInfoCenter.
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Old 09-09-2005, 09:01 AM   #3
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Wow that comes as a surprise!! Not only because it contradicts those rumors about Palm buying PalmSource back (which have never sounded reasonable to me), but also that a private company like ACCESS, who has only been known for its Netfront browser until now, can spend over $300m USD for buying a ramshackled company. It's definitely not a bargain considering that total market cap is only roughly $170m USD.

So what do I think about the future of PalmSource? Honestly I don't know what to make of this acquisition. ACCESS has no record whatsoever in developing mobile operation systems, and I don't know how PalmSource employees will take it to be the playball of some Japanese investors.

Btw, did you notice the volume spikes in the past few days, and the option call activities? Did anyone say insider info?
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Old 09-09-2005, 09:42 AM   #4
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I was wondering how word got out also... Word of mouth? Travel plans being noticed? Some flurry of visits with legal and acquisition experts?

I still think it may be a bargain because of what it represents. How else could you get for $300mill an instant (well in a year or two if things go well) Linux smartphone/featurephone platform with market acceptance -- and it's a gargantuan market. If they pull it off, they should compete well with the Nokia Linux offerings because of the wide base of apps and what should be a superior user interface. High risk with the heavy competition out there, but high upside also.

And something else that is interesting is that if you think of the internet as the platform, then they may have some very interesting plans for merging PalmOS and the internet browser technology. Can't do that sort of thing in any other way but to acquire the OS, and what other realistic options are out there? Plus it's got to be attractive for carriers also, because the phone connectivity and data usage drives revenue from data charges.

But I'm very interested to read up on reaction from some of the industry "insiders" and PalmSource people, as well as more of our MR readers to see what others are thinking. Seems to open the door for all kinds of possibilities!
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Old 09-09-2005, 10:25 AM   #5
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What worries me, though, is that Access may not be as dedicated to "PalmLinux" as we all would like. After all, their browser technology is available for every other mobile platform as well.
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Old 09-09-2005, 11:47 AM   #6
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I am sure David Nagel and some other ex-executives were banging his/her heads on the wall for selling their shares at less than half what Access paid for Palmsource...
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Old 09-09-2005, 12:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gadgetguru
I am sure David Nagel and some other ex-executives were banging his/her heads on the wall for selling their shares at less than half what Access paid for Palmsource...
Serves them right They weren't doing exactly the best for the company.
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Old 09-09-2005, 01:47 PM   #8
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Just a small clarification:

Access announced that it wanted to buy PalmSource, but it still requires approval by stock holders and the board - of both companies.
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Old 09-09-2005, 01:53 PM   #9
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Actually, it's pretty much a done deal. Yes, some approvals are necessary, but here's what the press release says about the boards... "The merger agreement has been approved by the board of directors of each of ACCESS Co., Ltd. and PalmSource, Inc. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2005 calendar year, pending regulatory approval and the approval of PalmSource's shareholders."
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Old 09-09-2005, 01:58 PM   #10
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True. And I am sure current PS stockholders are more than happy to dump their stocks at the current premium. I just wanted to point out that technically it hasn't happened yet.
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Old 09-09-2005, 02:06 PM   #11
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Found this at PDA247 just now:

It's an interesting development this and one which will no doubt create lots of discussion in the PDA community. Here's some thoughts I was sent-

Sony comes back (since Access is a Japanese company and there is a lot of vertical integration in Japan).

Palm.com is cut off from the Palm OS

The new Cobalt "Access OS" release imminent...
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Old 09-09-2005, 03:12 PM   #12
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I suppose it will likely be end of the year when everything is finalized before we really know what Access plans to do, and where they intend to focus their efforts and resources. I'll be on the edge of my seat until then, because it could mean anything from a focus on feature phones only by raiding bits and pieces of PalmOS (unlikely) to a complete new direction integrated with the browser technology (more likely) to business as usual plus new bundled software sales. I just hope they don't leave out the power users and developers, or keep them on hold so long that they jump ship. Uncertain times are like a ticking time bomb. But, then again, if they only care about feature phones, then they have nothing to fear from current users or developers.

I'm expecting PalmOS will be as strong as ever when it comes on Linux, but just in case, there's always Nokia and Win Mobile and even eventually "handtops" for current Palm users to fall back on if necessary. As long as the demand for mobile computing is growing, there will be someone to fill the need. I just hope there are legitimate options along side Microsoft!
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Old 09-09-2005, 03:31 PM   #13
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Maybe you think I am crazy, but to me this is good news.

a) someone actually willing to pay a high premium for PalmSource can imply they must know more about the company than regular stockholders do
b) let's face it: we haven't heard much good news around PalmSource lately, so what harm can it bring that they were brought now? In fact, I think the new owner will try to do everything right to prove that this was a smart investment.

I am holding both thumbs!
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