Understanding exactly how Palm could drive itself into irrelevance in such a short period of time will forever be a subject of Valley lore. There are parts of the story that are simply lost, viewpoints and perspectives that have been rendered extinct either through entrenched politicking or an employee base that has long since given up hope and dispersed for greener pastures. What we do know, though, is enough to tell a tale of warring factions, questionable decisions, and strategic churn, interspersed by flashes of brilliance and a core team that fought very hard at times to keep the dream alive.
It’s easy to look back at Palm’s story arc from 1992 to 2012 and feel a sense of loss and sadness — this was a company that pioneered PDAs, popularized smartphones, and developed a revolutionary new platform on limited resources with an extraordinary concentration of industry talent before meeting its demise at the hands of HP. Staffers we spoke to took a more positive view, though, and one summed it up particularly well: “You ever see 24 Hour Party People? You know the scene at the end where they’re playing Happy Mondays’ Hallelujah and Tony Wilson is standing over The Hacienda and he’s like, ‘well, it’s all over — we have to shut down. Take the turntables, take the barstools, let a thousand Haciendas bloom’? Well, that’s what this is like. It’s that there are still people there, but a lot of people left, and they’re bringing the spirit with them. A thousand webOSes will bloom, I hope.“
That’s all we need — a thousand new operating systems. Excellent article. I recall well over a decade ago having a discussion about baseball at the local pub, someone takes out their Palm and looked up the pertinent statistic. Wow thought I. It amazes me how Palm lost the mobile market.