The rumour mill is suggesting that Dell may buy Palm One. What changes would happen to the market if this really happen? Time for some speculation from our point of view.
If Dell did buy palmOne, the question would be - would they continue to license Palm OS or stick to Microsoft? I suspect that Microsoft would be offering Dell incentives to stay with them; incentives that palmSource can�t match.
Now if Dell did buy palmOne and they switched them from Palm OS to Windows Mobile, the industry would be turned upside down. Microsoft market share would go from 40.2% to 80.9% (assuming hardware sales are constant). Dell would have 43.1% market share, and HP would have 25.7%. PalmSource would then have Sony's 9.3% market share and not much more. I can�t see them surviving on that.
Thus if Dell did purchase palmOne and switch, expect either a quick death to palmSource or a Sony buyout of them. Furthermore, if this happened - the smartphone market would consequentially be geared much more favourably in Microsoft's favour and both Nokia and Sony Ericsson would have some serious thinking to do - especially Sony Ericsson given that they don�t have their own Smartphone OS to use.
If Dell bought palmOne and does not switch them to Windows Mobile will palmSource devices retain their market share or continue to slip?
To prevent further slippage of palmOne market share Dell would probably want to minimise development in the high end handhelds and pull the features of the higher end Tungsten line into the popular Zire line and continue to sell the Zire cheap.
This would in turn commoditize the PDA market far beyond where it is now - which suits the Dell business model and makes it hard for competitors to stay in the game. It would probably spell the end for Toshiba's high end models, and place significant pressure on HP's high end devices. It would quite possibly force an exit to some of the less innovative manufacturers (e.g. Acer) and the high end devices that don�t offer serious benefits.
Finally - whichever way Dell went with the OS, it will put more pressure on HP to get into the smartphone market. This may be just the pressure they need� HP entering this market segment will in turn, give some of the smaller smart phone manufacturers more competition than they can compete against as HP will look to innovative design to differentiate itself from the competition. Again, this would give Nokia and Sony Ericsson a bit of a shake up.
All this is purely speculation, but I can smell a serious shake up coming.