Report: Apple Also Tried to Buy Palm

Apple Inc. also tried to buy Palm, but eventually lost out on that effort to HP. Citing an unidentified source who claimed to be familiar with Palm’s efforts to sell itself, BusinessInsider reported that some 16 different companies were contacted by Palm’s bankers, and that five, Apple, HP, Research in Motion, Google, and Lenovo, being serious about buying the company.

Apple’s interest in acquiring Palm centered around the company’s large portfolio of more than 450 patents, as well as another pending 400 patent applications. Had Apple been able to land those patents, the company would have been in a very strong place when it comes to defending its own large portfolio of patents relating to iPhone, iOS, gesture controls, and other related aspects of its iOS empire.

BusinessInsider also reported that its source insisted that Apple was also interested in continuing to fund Palm’s existing operations, possibly as a way to have a pony in the physical keyboard race with Research In Motion. Such a move would be very uncharacteristic of Apple, as pointed out by the magazine, but BI’s source did insist that such an option was involved with the discussions.

We should also remind our readers that by the time of the HP purchase, Palm was manned by a veritable army of ex-Apple employees, including CEO Jon Rubinstein himself, who was the VP that helped guide Apple’s early devices effort with the iPod. Other former Apple employees include engineers, designers, and even several Apple public relation veterans.

Be that as it may, it appears as if Apple offered some $600 million for Palm, a lowball figure that was half of what HP ended up paying. Research in Motion seems to have been the runner-up in the contest, first offering $6.00 per share for Palm, but later lowering the offer to $5.50. HP’s winning bid of $1.2 billion represents $5.70 per share.

The story also touches on the ongoing competitiveness between Apple and Google, with BI reporting that Google was interested in Palm mainly because it wanted to keep Apple from being able to buy it. Once Google determined that Apple wasn’t serious enough, Google didn’t try very hard to buy the company.