CEO of Sony Wants to Buy PalmSource

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Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman and CEO of Sony, said in a recent interview with AlwaysOn that his company would be willing to buy PalmSource, the subsidiary of Palm Inc. that makes the company’s operating system.

He admits that PalmSource has been making progress lately improving the Palm OS but he would like to own the company to save on licensing fees. “My problem now is that as Palm licensee we have to pay them lots of money,” he said.

Last fall, Sony invested $25 million to buy about 6% of the company. At this point, PalmSource is still a part of Palm Inc. but is expected to become independent in the first half of this year.

Mr. Idei also said he was a bit uncomfortable about competing with the hardware portion of Palm while cooperating with the operating system division. Sony isn’t alone and this is actually the basis for the plan to make PalmSource independent from any of the licensees. It is doubtful that any of the other licensees would be in favor Sony owning PalmSource any more than they like Palm owning it.

Unhappy with Symbian

Sony and Ericsson have a partnership to make mobile phones that run the Symbian OS. Mr. Idei admitted he wasn’t terribly happy with this arrangement.

“In terms of our OS strategy, it is not clear whether Symbian … is the right way to go for the mobile phone. And I can?t tell you why Sony has a Symbian OS on its phones and Palm OS on its PDAs. Even Bill Gates asked me if I was crazy.”

The Sony Ericsson joint venture hasn’t been terribly successful. The partnership has continuously lost money since it was formed and only has 6% of the market.

There has been some speculation that Sony would consider making smartphones based on the Palm OS if the Sony Ericsson partnership collapsed.

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