MediaFile

from DealZone:

Pricey Palm attracts attention

If you want to take a bite out of Apple’s piece of the staggeringly huge (but difficult to quantify in $$$ terms) smartphone market pie, you’d better either have the magical new “thing” or be willing to spend to buy it.

As Anupreeta Das reports, Palm – one of the stalwart originals in the mobile handset space -- has remade itself into a terrific target with the success of its Pre. Palm’s stock got a jolt this week on talk that Nokia could be considering a bid. But as she explains, Palm may prove to be too pricey a purchase, even for those with deep pockets.

Since introducing the Pre, Dell, Microsoft, Nokia and Motorola have been mentioned as possible suitors. If one of these cash-rich companies was to bid for Palm today, it would be targeting a stock that has quadrupled this year. Complicating matters, “details on how many units it has sold are skimpy, making it difficult to value the success of Palm's turnaround story,” she reports.

Palm's market capitalization is $2.4 billion. Based on the average 34 percent premium that technology, media and telecommunications companies have been sold for this year, according to Thomson Reuters data, this means a price tag of about $3.2 billion.

Dell is already in the early stages of buying up Perot Systems, but will still have nearly $7 billion in cash on hand should it choose to go on a spree. Microsoft, while a cagey customer, as shown in its dealings with Yahoo, has buckets more. For big tech players, the price itself is not the problem.

Video: Motorola’s Cliq in action

Check out Motorola’s new phone, the Cliq. Reuters reporter Sinead Carew scored a demo after Motorola debuted the phone in San Francisco.

Motorola and Google: a bar-room marriage

It’s easy to frame the latest tech business developments as epic clashes of giants and alliances of superpowers.

But Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha finds more inspiration for his metaphors in saloon bar lovers.

After unveiling the Cliq smartphone at the Mobilize 09 event in San Francisco on Thursday, Jha explained to the crowd how it was he turned to Google executive Andy Rubin and the Google Android operating system for the new phone.

Cliq or Dext? Whatever you call it, Motorola’s big play

Motorola launched its Hail Mary pass in the smartphone market and it goes by the name of Cliq, or Dext, depending on where you live. One would assume plenty of branding research went into the names (Cliq in the U.S. and Dext elsewhere), as this is the company that created such easy-to-remember names as Razr, Rokr and Rizr.

Motorola, once a cellphone leader producing iconic products, has fallen well behind the competition as the smartphone market continues to sizzle and consumers flock to devices like the iPhone (which, incidentally, goes by the name “iPhone” everywhere it sells).

With so many new smartphones coming to the market, analysts say the key to success is differentiation — which is often a software issue rather than a hardware one. Motorola hopes its MOTOBLUR software, based on Google’s Android platform, will help it carve out a niche.

Verizon cagey on phones, open about global ambitions

In a wide-ranging interview with Charlie Rose earlier this week, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg danced around questions about cellphones but was more forthcoming about the U.S. telecom giant’s long-term expansion ambitions.

Asked to confirm a report that Verizon will sell an Android-based phone from Motorola this year Seidenberg said, “It might be true what you said. I can’t quite disclose…”

And as for any plans to sell iPhone, the executive said that would be Apple’s decision.

Comcast CEO Roberts makes the Top 15 on pay

While we were at The Cable Show last week, Comcast filed a documents with securities regulators detailing its 2008 executive compensation. The filing showed that Chief Executive Brian Roberts received $23.7 million in 2008 up from $20.8 million in 2007 but below his 2006 payout of $26 million.

Roberts, as the AP points out, has long been criticized by shareholders for the size of his pay package. His increase comes after Comcast shares fell some 7.6 percent in the calendar year 2008, but this outperformed most of the major market indexes, which fell between 30 to 45 percent last year.

In February Roberts and other executives agreed to forgo a pay rise in 2009 and cut back on personal benefits, including a previous agreement which had guaranteed the payment of his base salary and cash bonus to his heirs for up to five years after his death — a so called ‘golden coffin’ package.

Android or oblivion for Motorola

For the last two years, investors have been calling for Motorola to bring out some decent new phones. The calls turned to pleas on Tuesday after its bleak results and a weak outlook.

Analysts are calling Motorola’s promise to introduce advanced devices in time for the holiday season, based on Google’s Android operating system, as the company’s last chance. In a research report entitled “Last Hurrah” Nomura analyst Richard Windsor put it bluntly:

I think if Android fails to deliver the needed revenue and profit recovery, then the focus will be oriented on managing the business for oblivion.

dellPhone a rumor at best – Michael Dell

The Web may be buzzing with stories about whether computer maker Dell should or shouldn’t get into the cell phone market, but the company itself  has tried to stay out of the public discussion. 
Michael Dell said on Friday that reports of Dell’s cell phone ambitions were “best described as a rumor” when chased by reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

The analysts had this to say about the computer maker doing battle with rivals such as Apple in the cut throad phone market as well as in computers. 

 Some were encouraging:

“This strategy makes a lot of sense. Smartphones are a big opportunity and in a way they’re canibalizing notebook and netbook sales to a degree,” said Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu. “It’s probably minor today but could become bigger over time as smartphones get more powerful. It’s better to go embrace the threat than doing nothing.”

CES: Palm in spotlight on Day 1

Palm Pre

The official start of the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas saw PDA pioneer Palm unveiling its answer to the popular iPhone smartphone and a new, Web-oriented operating system. Investors pushed the stock up 30 percent for two consecutive days and bloggers affirmed their optimism in early hands-on reviews.

Gizmodo’s Adrian Covert admired the Palm Pre’s intuitive design and “beautiful” screen. And Engadget’s Joshua Topolsky found switching between applications graceful and simple.

Elsewhere in Vegas, Sony continued blazing the organic light-emitting diode trail showing off a bendable OLED video screen that would make it possible to literally wear what you want to display. Actor Tom Hanks demonstrated a pair of prototype Sony eyeglasses with built-in video screens for watching full-length movies.

Hold off on the eulogy for Motorola

moto.jpgWhat in the world has gotten into Motorola? For more than a year, Wall Street has lamented its fate. Just this week, industry forecasters predicted the handset maker would have nothing to show for the second quarter other than a hefty net loss and a drop to fourth place in the global phone market after losing share to LG Electronics.

So imagine the surprise when Motorola emerged with a small profit, sold nearly 2 million more phones than analysts had expected, and held on to its No. 3 ranking? Company shares jumped 13 percent as it also outlined an expected profit from continuing operations for the full year.

Motorola executives lost no momentum in describing ambitious plans to analysts either, saying they expected to launch 50 new devices this year, many more of them equipped for high-speed wireless networks. They are also looking more closely at the best ways to split the company, with a final separation due in the third quarter next year.