$100 million more thrown at Palm, for what?

Palm just got another $100 million, but why is Elevation Partners throwing good money after bad?

Elevation Partners is dumping another $100 million into Palm, the erstwhile leader in mobile computing, as The Wall Street Journal reports. This seems like such an obvious case of throwing good money after bad that it's almost unfathomable.

Palm is all but dead. I don't relish this fact, but there it is. There used to be two groups on the planet that persisted in using Palm devices: Zack Urlocker and Red Hat employees. Zack, because he's a retro sort of "if it works why switch?" sort of guy, and Red Hat because its internal IT policies were long dominated by one primary question: "Will it work with Linux?"

Well, Red Hat has a Blackberry-wielding CEO and my recent visit to the Raleigh and Buenos Aires campuses showed more iPhones than Palm Treos. Zack? Well, I think 2009 may be the year that Zack folds.

The rest of the industry, however, already has. Palm lost. It's a classic case of the industry innovator being hoisted on its own petard. It was out-innovated and out-marketed by Apple and Research in Motion. Sure, it could come back from the dead, as Apple did, but I wouldn't be betting on it. Certainly not $100 million.

Sure, Elevation Partners' Bono could sing "It's too late tonight to drag the past out into the light," but this is real investor cash, not simply a song. Palm's song is sung.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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