For sale: one mobile technology company, slightly used -- runs like newish. According to a report in Bloomberg, floundering handset maker Palm is shopping itself to prospective buyers that may include Taiwanese rival HTC and China-based PC-manufacturer Lenovo.
While the reports are unconfirmed, the shoe certainly fits. Palm has had no end of trouble in recent months, with lackluster sales of its Pre Plus and Pixi Plus smartphones on Verizon's network, and lower than predicted financial results in the most recent quarter. Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein even issued a memo to the company's employees in an attempt to reassure them.
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Just last week, Rubinstein shrugged off rumors that Palm would be going out of business, telling Fortune's Adam Lashinsky that there was "a plan that takes us to profitability." Apparently that plan was to get bought, and quick. When pressed on buyout rumors in the same interview, Rubinstein sidestepped the question.
Lesser known Chinese vendors Huawei Technologies and ZTE may also be in the running to snap up Palm, though sources say that Dell has decided against a bid.
In particular, HTC would be an interesting home for Palm, which would bring along its webOS smartphone software and a decent-sized patent portfolio. HTC, for its part, has focused mainly on hardware design, with software usually supplied by Google's Android mobile OS or Windows Mobile.
The former ended up as a point of contention earlier this year when Apple accused HTC of patent infringement -- many of the allegations seemed to be targeted at Android. Acquiring its own operating system could be one way for HTC to hedge its bets in the eventuality that the case doesn't go its way.