Here's an interesting theory from Slate and Cnet, which is timely given Microsoft's layoffs and miserable stock performance (down to about $18 per share from $32 a year ago). Writing for Slate, Farhad Manjoo suggests MSFT should buy Palm, maker of the very hot, very hyped Palm Pre (above). That would put Redmond into the hardware business on a scale beyond Xbox. But Manjoo and Cnet's Matt Asay argue that Steve Ballmer should give up on buying Yahoo! and enter the smartphone wars. Yes, that would put the company into competition with the iPhone and various BlackBerry products. But if, depending on the Palm Pre's ultimate price tag and wireless carrier, such a device were a hit, and if (a highly speculative if) MSFT somehow bought Palm, I bet it would help the share price. And, more important, it would make a positive consumer impression every time you and I answered our cell phone or read and answered an important email from work. The smartphone halo from the iPhone has surely helped Apple. And, possibly, it could do the same for Microsoft.
But, even as I relay this highly speculative theory, I am reminded how maddeningly complicated it has become to shop for a new cell phone, as I am now doing...
Palm Pre? iPhone? BlackBerry Storm or Pearl? My head is spinning! Verizon or AT&T? Somebody tell me what to buy!
I love the idea of checking email on a handheld device. But the monthly cost and annual plan? Not so much. All of which makes me reconsider my el-cheapo teenager's prepaid phone from Virgin Mobile. (You know: The guys putting all those annoying banner ads on the NYT site.) And thus:
If smarter phones my ear do beckon, No! I shall not heed their beauty, siren songs, Or friv'lous features, ring tones, downloads, though My jealous pocket for an iPod longs. While upgrade surely would gain admission To circles trendy, wired, 3G-ready, Swell social networks I could envision, My Nokia "Shorty" remains steady. With screen mere monochrome, with no email, No browser, camera, or MP3, No defects but the random power fail, Why, after three years, could I forsake thee? So connectivity's overrated? Yet Shorty's demise seems cruelly fated.