The latest twist in the $1.2 billion Palm webOS saga: HP is spinning out remnants of the once revered smartphone maker's assets into a new company called Gram, with a focus on software and cloud computing.
HP formed a new wholly owned subsidiary to hold some of Palm's intellectual property and promises new technology that will unleash the freedom of the web.
Martin Risau, a vice president at HP that has been overseeing the webOS business, issued an internal memo that reportedly leaked to the press. In it, Risau noted that HP's mission, values and plan of action are the same, but that there's a lot of work to do with Gram.
"Yes, this is a new brand -- it is just the beginning, and there is so much more to do. And yet unveiling the new brand is also a Call to Action: Try it on. We don't expect you to love it overnight," he wrote. "We are no longer a consumer hardware brand, we are a different company with focus on software, User Experience, Cloud, engineering and partnering. This change in identity will take some getting used to and that's normal."
Avoiding Patent Trolls?
Risau went on to say that Gram is an incubation company, he is trusting the team to keep the company name and product under the radar to give it time to take root and grow.
"You can wear the logo, help build the momentum of the new identity, talk to your families and friends about it," he instructed. "If someone from the outside asks, you can say, 'GRAM is a new company. We are in stealth mode on our product offering'."
Michael Disabato, managing VP of network and telecom at Gartner, told us he thinks Gram is ultimately more of a legal move than a new innovation. Although he has no inside knowledge, he said it appears that HP is taking what's left of Palm assets out of the company and putting it into another legal entity.
"HP can do whatever it wants with this new legal entity. If someone wants to go after webOS for any patent litigation, they are not coming after HP, they are coming after Gram," Disabato said. "Anybody who wants to sue Gram for patent infringement is going to sue a company that has a couple of million bucks as opposed to suing HP which has several billion bucks."
Can Gram Compete?
But it remains to be seen what Gram really is. The cover of the memo indicates, "Gram is a new company leveraging the core strengths of webOS, Enyo and our cloud offerings as well as the firepower of our partners to create a technology that will unleash the freedom of the web." Maybe it is, but Disabato is still skeptical.
"I would point to the iTunes app store, Google Play and the growing Microsoft apps store and say what do you have to compete with that?" Disabato said. "The reason people are buying mobile devices is for the apps. [Yet] Palm managed to alienate over 50,000 application developers.
If that's the case, putting the old assets under a new brand and new management could be a wise move indeed.
Posted: 2012-08-17 @ 7:43pm PT
I see HP trying to pull what Google did. Honestly; but I think it was because they were stuck between a rock and a hard place. They're going to try and merge with Microsoft or try to create their own mobile OS for tablets and phones. Might be a hobby for a while like Android was, who knows.