Is Palm ditching WebOS for Android?

Has Palm reached a strategic decision to replace WebOS with Android? Could such a move help save the company’s flagging smartphone line from an inglorious end?

Well, an alleged internal Palm memo obtained by Slashdot seems to indicate that even CEO Jon Rubinstein has considered making the switch.

“While Palm is incredibly proud of our engineers who spent timeless work and effort to bring us this advanced operating system, consumers simply have not caught on,” states the (as yet unconfirmed) memo.

“To provide a better future for ourselves and our customers, the only logical choice is to transition our hardware and software to the Android platform.”

However, the memo also emphasized that WebOS wouldn’t “officially go away,” with the UI and various notifications features expected to be integrated into the popular Android platform.

Meanwhile, Charlie Sorrel of Wired expressed skepticism over the “suspicious origins” of the leak, but acknowledged that such a strategy did seem like “one of the only ways out” for Palm.

“Back at CES 2009, the Pre was the star of the show, with almost unanimous praise from the tech press,” wrote Sorrel.

“But it failed to sell, to the extent that Palm has actually ceased production temporarily and is trying to help telcos shift inventory.”

However, Sorrel noted that switching to Android would be a “risky move,” as Palm would be “throwing out” the one unique thing that it has to sell. 

“The WebOS is way more important than the Pre: those are just boxes. And if the iPhone has taught us anything, it’s that the box doesn’t matter: it’s all in the OS. Palm’s failure wasn’t in making a bad OS. It was poor marketing,” he added.

Update: Palm has “emphatically” denied the existence of such a memo or strategy to Engadget. 

“Our sources at the company essentially laughed when they heard this news, and they emphatically stated that there was no memo, and no move internally towards Android,” confirmed Engadget’s Joshua Topolsky.

“Furthermore, many of the reports are citing a bunk piece of news from Monday which erroneously stated that Palm had halted production – that news has also been refuted by the company.”