What Apples May Come

I'm going out on a limb: Steve Jobs will announce on Monday that Apple is buying Palm, Inc. This is pure fantasy and speculation on my part: I have no sources. But in some universes, it will happen (possibly ours). Palm's market cap is now about $3 billion. Apple has over $4 billion just in cash in the bank. Apple could pay a billion in cash, the rest in stock, restructure Palm, and restore its greatness.

I've mentioned this to colleagues and they keep harping on the Newton. The Newton was a fantastic machine well ahead of its time with a few early flaws that doomed it. They also didn't understand the market. And chips just weren't fast enough: there wasn't enough processing power to carry out the needed tasks.

The iPod is what they should look to instead. In the space of a few short months, using off-the-shelf components, a development team created the greatest MP3 player in existence. You can carp about the price, but for the audience that wants the ultimate unit, $400 is a reasonable price given the massive featureset and the superiority of battery life, storage, display, and utility.

Imagine how Apple could transform Palm: dump the management team, dump the marketing team, revamp the developer program, integrate its iPod engineering, integrate wireless into every unit, create hyper-synchronization tools with Mac and Windows, and bring that Apple oomphf back into the market.

As I say, I'm making this up out of whole cloth. But the iPod proved to me that Apple can be lean and mean and sweat the small stuff.