This week as I've discussed the recent events in the Palm and mobile device world (Treo 670, Tapwave going bye-bye, etc.) I kept coming back to an interesting theme — that Palm, Inc. seems to be very much like a ball of mercury. Let me explain.
In the old days you had Palm, Inc. who brought the Pilot PDAs to the masses. It was headed by visionary Jeff Hawkins, with support from guys like Ed Colligan (Business/Marketing) and Rob Haitani (User Interface). They built very hot mobile devices that everyone wanted.
But then things started to splinter. Hawkins broke off to do Handspring and Palm spun out PalmSource so the Palm OS would have a neutral space to operate and gather licensees. Pretty soon, the unified Palm we once knew was separated into many smaller pieces, like little balls of mercury.
Fast forward to 2004/2005. Handspring is scooped up by palmOne, Hawkins is back. Colligan comes back and so do many key people from the original Palm Pilot days, including guys like Rob Haitani. Palm is riding the very hot Treo wave, and enjoys the popularity of several other mobile devices. Meanwhile, Palm OS licensees seem to be falling off the wagon left and right. It seems palmOne is the only one left standing.
Next thing you know, palmOne buys the Palm name back from PalmSource, making the unification of the mercury balls nearly complete. The only ball missing is ownership of the Palm OS (or more correctly, Palm OS 5) which Palm has modified heavily to suit their needs. It's almost a big ball of mercury again.
I don't know what the significance of this observation holds, other than there seems to be a cycle happening with Palm, of separation and reconnection. Judging by how successful the original Palm was with Pilots, this seems a good omen for today's version of Palm, with a very popular Treo, LifeDrive, TE2, Zire.
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