When a big deal happens, either in dollars or in the profile of the companies involved,. the best -- but perhaps most difficult -- thing to do is sit back and just see how it works out. Bloggers wouldn't be bloggers, nor would analysts be analysts, if they took this approach, however.
They certainly aren't in the case of HP's acquisition of Palm, which was announced yesterday. The reactions were strong because both the acquirer and the acquired are iconic companies and the market in question-mobility-is so hot.
Betanews' piece is notable because anyone over 25 probably didn't get the headline, "HP buying Palm is like Ke$ha marrying John McCain." The identity of Ke$ha-who could have a second career endorsing online security products if she adds a number or two to her name -- is revealed in an editor's note at the end. (That saved me the trouble of texting my daughter.) The point of the piece is that HP and Palm have about as much in common as a 20-something singer and a 70-something ex-maverick. The writer also wonders if Palm will end up in a marginalized role similar to the one now inhabited by Compaq.
Computerworld does the obligatory survey of reactions. The piece, in a sentence that has the vaguely troubling feel of the start of an SAT question, says that "five IDC analysts said HP has only a one in four chance that the acquisition will prove a success." (Question: What chance of success does each analyst give the deal?) The firm cites Android and iPhone competition. Those companies, as well as Symbian and BlackBerry, were cited as competitors both for customers and developer affection by Gartner's Ken Dulaney.
Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates registered reservations that Computerworld characterizes as "mild." Gold says that HP has not been good at integrating acquisitions, but notes there are several ex-Palm executives at the company. Analysys Mason analyst Steve Hilton adds that HP's best bet may be to take aim at RIM and Nokia in the enterprise.
At ZDNet, Sam Diaz does a good job of presenting points of view that differ from his. His take seems to be that HP did what it had to do, which was get into the smartphone game in a meaningful way. He counters negative views by citing Silicon Valley's competitive drive and the desire to beat Apple as reasons that the deal might work.
Finally, Craig Mathias at Network World is enthusiastic about the deal. He thinks the acquisition catapults Palm's WebOS to "the top of the Linux-on-mobile-devices heap" and, especially with the recent 3Com acquisition, makes HP a looming presence:
HP is now a clear leader in everything IT - they can sell you a computer a printer, a handheld, a server, or build you a data center full of servers and even operate that data center or your entire IT infrastructure if you'd like. They can provide all manner of implementation technologies or build you precisely the solution you need. And, with Palm, those applications can be completely mobile. All in all, this is a another brilliant move on HP's part, and a continuation of the winning strategy I discussed some time ago.
All that being said, the only thing to do is wait and see. The deal first needs to close. Assuming it does, it makes sense to remember that mergers and acquisitions either succeed or fail for reasons that aren't apparent the day after they are announced.