August 16, 2001, 9:24 AM — Palm Inc. has signed a deal to acquire the intellectual property and technology assets of Be Inc., a maker of an operating system for so-called Internet appliances, for US$11 million in stock.
It's not yet clear what the purchase brings to Palm. Originally, Be's software, called BeOS, was aimed at a variety of desktop and handheld devices. Despite some favorable reviews, the software never found a wide market. During the mid-90s, under CEO Jean-Louis Gassee, formerly of Apple Computer Inc., Be recast the software as Be Information Appliance, and targeted the emerging class of compact and inexpensive consumer and entertainment devices designed for Web browsing.
Be began looking for a buyer in April. In July, it reported higher revenue and lower operating expenses, but a net loss, of nearly $3.9 million. Days later, it laid of 28 people, about a third of its workforce.
Palm is reworking its Palm OS, beefing it up for a more powerful microprocessor architecture, the ARM chip. Palm could incorporate parts of the Be software into Palm OS, or offer a separate platform, perhaps supporting some or all of the Palm OS APIs, aimed at the same markets that Be was targeting.