Palm CEO remains confident, but open to licensing webOS

Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) CEO Jon Rubinstein said he remains convinced the struggling smartphone maker can survive without being acquired, but also said he is open to the possibility of licensing the company's webOS platform to other handset makers. Meanwhile, speculation continued to swirl about which companies might be interested in buying Palm.

Rubinstein, in interviews with the Financial Times and MarketWatch, sounded the same confident yet frank tone and touched on many of the same themes he brought up in a recent interview with Fortune, in which he acknowledged that "clearly we've hit a speed bump." Palm has suffered through sluggish sales of its webOS devices, and multiple reports have indicated the company recently tapped Goldman Sachs and another investment bank, Qatalyst Partners, to find a potential buyer--numerous handset makers have been bandied about as potential suitors.

"I believe Palm can survive as an independent company," he told the FT. "We have a plan that gets us to profitability." Rubinstein did not go into specifics, but said the company is working "fast and furious on new handsets."

"We do have a strong pipeline of products in the future," he said.

Nevertheless, Rubinstein said he is open to the idea of licensing webOS if it could bring Palm more revenue. "If there's an appropriate strategic relationship or business deal that makes sense to us, then of course we would licence webOS because obviously the more scale we get the more the benefit there is to us," he said. Interestingly, he told MarketWatch that it is "clearly a concern" that recent takeover speculation could scare away potential application developers from webOS.

Meanwhile, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters, Chinese computer and handset maker Lenovo is exploring a possible bid for Palm--just as smartphone vendor HTC decided to pass on Palm after reviewing the company's finances.

Representatives from Lenovo, Palm and HTC declined to comment.

For more:
- see this FT article
- see this Reuters article
- see this MarketWatch article

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