The mobile roundup – The HP buys Palm edition

We were in sunny Orlando for Research In Motion’s BlackBerry conference this week and thought its new handsets would be the big story of the week but then Hewlett-Packard dropped $1.2 billion to buy Palm. While that deal will have significant ramifications for years to come, there was also some hot hardware introduced and some groovy apps hit the scenes. Read after the jump for a a full breakdown of the most important mobile news for the last week of April.

HP buys Palm for $1.2 billion

We all knew Palm was for sale but, for some reason, not many pegged HP as a buyer. HP understands that convergence is coming rapidly and the market for full-blown desktops and laptops is only going to shrink while the smartphone space explodes. So, what does $1.2 billion buy you? Well, this gives the company a strong brand name, a litany of patents, carrier relationships and an operating system that I happen to love.

HP said it will “double down” on webOS and could eventually bring it to devices like netbooks and tablets. I honestly would be giddy if they could pump out an iPad-like device with Palm’s OS. The deal, which is expected to close in late summer, will give Palm the resources it needs to compete against giants like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Nokia. We’re finally going to see webOS at scale and I can’t wait.

There are a few questions, though. Palm said its immediate road map for new devices won’t change – that could be a good or bad thing depending on how you felt about the Pre and Pixi. Moving forward, it’s unclear who will be in charge of the hardware, as it’s unclear what role Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein (who was saying the company could survive independently last week). The branding issue could be a mess too – do you keep the Palm name for handsets but use HP’s for tablets?

We’ll be watching the results of this deal for years and years, but it looks like there could be a new strong player in the smartphone space.

RIM’s WES 2010

We braved the humidity of Orlando to be live and direct from RIM’s WES 2010 conference earlier in the week and there was a ton of BlackBerry news. We live-blogged the keynote and we were treated with a glimpse at the next BlackBerry operating system. BlackBerry 6 appears to be far more suited for touch-screen devices and it has more overall polish to attract mainstream consumers. If you have any interest at all in BlackBerry 6, I suggest you hop over to Simon Sage’s exhaustive breakdown of what to expect from the next OS. The dude tears down the promo video above frame by frame to help us better understand what to expect.

That beautiful piece of hardware above is the new BlackBerry Bold 9650 and it is essentially the Tour 2. It has WiFi, is a CDMA device that will hit Sprint first, 512 MB of RAM, an excellent QWERTY keyboard and other goodies. Like most RIM products, this doesn’t overwhelm us with its innovation but it is an excellent evolution of the product. Check out Will fondling this bad boy in the video below.

The BlackBerry Pearl also got an update as the Pearl 3G received the aforementioned 3G, your choice of a 20 or 14-key keyboard, 3.2-megapixel camera and all the messaging goodness you expect from a crackberry. For some reason, this is RIM’s first handset with 802.11n WiFi – why didn’t they put it in the higher-end Bold 9650? Ah well, faster Internet speeds are always a good thing. Here’s another hands-on video of the slim new BlackBerry.

An unexpected surprise was the awesome BMW ConnectedDrive system. The next batch of BMW cars will be able to integrate BlackBerry handset directly with the dashboard display, enabling you to easily check out e-mail and text messages. Once connected via Bluetooth, the system will enable you to make hands-free calls, be notified when you have a new message and it will even read your messages out loud. This is cool stuff that will have a demonstrable impact on many commuters. Why yes, we do have video and it’s embedded below. Thanks for asking.

Check out all of our coverage of WES 2010 here. You really won’t regret it.

Steve Jobs rips Flash a new one

When the iPhone first came out, there was some sentiment that Flash would eventually make its way to the platform. That is absolutely not going to happen, according to a sharply-worded letter penned by Steve Jobs.

In an absolute thrashing of the ubiquitous web technology, Jobs calls out Flash for being closed, a resource hog, a security vulnerability and a battery killer. He basically blamed Flash for any and all problems that occurred on Macs. Adobe’s CEO wasn’t going to take that noise so he fired back and said the critiques were just a “smokescreen” for Apple. I understand both sides of the argument but Jobs brought up something I haven’t really heard often during these types of debates:

Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers,” which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple’s revolutionary multitouch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

That’s an interesting point but you could also argue that if Flash were available on mobile devices like the iPhone developers would quickly make it touch-friendlier. We’ll see if the smack talking gets any better next week.

Quick hitters

The Droid Incredible came out this Thursday and it’s very, very popular. There’s good reasons for its sellouts because the handset is, well, Incredible. If you’re one of those who wanted the handset but couldn’t buy it, I have the perfect way to tide you over: check out our full review and then watch the photo fight between the Incredible and the Nexus One.

Late this afternoon Twitter went live with its official Android application, and this thing just rocks. It’s a pleasing user interface that may be a tad bit too cutesy for some. You can integrate your tweeps with your phone’s contacts, send and receive messages, get notified when you’re mentioned or have mail, look at trending topics. Basically, it does everything you’d expect an official app to do. I’m still in love with the Twicca app but it will only be a matter of time before I switch over to Twitter’s app full time.

That iPhone of yours may be getting better voice-recognition features in the future because Apple acquired Siri. This company was responsible for a voice-powered personal assistant that can do multiple things like voice dialing or local search. There’s no telling how long it will take to fully integrate this into the OS but we can hold out hope that it will drop with iPhone OS 4.0.

Well, friends, it’s been a hectic week for some of us here. I spent it bouncing between coasts, so I’m a bit fried and cannot wait for the weekend. The IntoMobile team never sleeps though, as we’ll have constant updates throughout the weekend and I’ll be back hitting it hard Monday. Look for a few reviews to come out and, as always, we’ll give you up-to-the-minute news on this mobile world of ours. Feel free to follow us on Twitter (@IntoMobile) and Facebook (fan page). Take it easy out there and make sure you leave the bar with your phone.

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