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Palm stock now worthless, vultures begin circling overhead

The story of Palm isn't about a bad product -- hey, the Pre and WebOS are actually pretty cool -- but it is about a laundry list of bad decisions and bad breaks that may have ultimately doomed the company. Palm stock crashed to 4 dollars over the weekend, and with some analysts valuing it at zero dollars, a great deal of speculation about the future of the brand ensued.

What the heck happened, here? John Gruber at Daring Fireball linked to a clear and comprehensive analysis of Palm's current woes, written by someone with considerable insight into the situation, Jean-Louis Gassée (of Apple Newton, BeOS, and Palmsource fame).

According to Gassée, Palm's poorly-timed unveiling of the Pre (just before Apple announced a major iPhone price drop) wasn't the only problem. Failing to strike a deal with Verizon before the Motorola Droid came on the scene hurt too. Then Palm made a bad situation worse by sending out tons of extra inventory to retailers -- we're talking hundreds of thousands of additional handsets -- in an effort to push additional sales of the Pre. That backfired, as you might expect, leaving Palm to take a loss on over a million unsold phones. It also didn't help that Palm put so much time and promotional muscle behind an iTunes syncing feature that never fully worked, and locked them into a losing battle with Apple.

Things look bleak for Palm. The crowded smartphone market, with heavy-hitters like Apple, Google, and now Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, means there might not even be much value left in the Palm name, let alone the technology. Will some hero (or some fool, depending on who you ask) step in to buy the company?

For more details on this sad story, proceed to Gassée's post. Our friends at Engadget also have an in-depth plan for Palm's salvation, but it sounds a bit farfetched to me.

Tags: business, dead, fail, mobile, palm, palm pre, PalmPre, webos

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