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3Com tipped to join Symbian – a bridge to MS and/or Palm?

Symbian can afford to be choosy about shareholders, but 3Com has attractions

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Rumours in the London market today suggest 3Com is poised to announce that it will take a stake in Symbian, the Psion spin-off consortium that is currently jointly owned by Psion, Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and NTT. Such a move would potentially conflict with 3Com's Palm Computing subsidiary, which is a competitor to Symbian, but it could have enough advantages to it to make a deal worthwhile. If Symbian will have 3Com, of course. Earlier this week Symbian CEO Colly Myers was happily saying the outfit now had the geographical spread it needed, which means that new candidates will either have to beg, or will have something very useful to bring to the table. But 3Com might well have this. 3Com is in deep with Microsoft in several areas at the moment, despite the fact that Palm competes with Microsoft. By doing a deal with Symbian, 3Com might therefore be able to start building bridges between the consortium and Redmond. And although Palm has been wildly successful, globally it's pretty exposed, from a wireless point of view. The Nokias, Ericssons and Motorolas of this world have been beavering away furiously in preparation for the great smartphone/communicator rollout, and Palm doesn't have the heft or the cellular expertise to be able to resist alone. So a deal might make sense. And Symbian might just do it. You could see synergies between Palm's market and the markets its shareholders are aiming for - there's obvious overlap between Psion and Palm, but that's not so clear for the others. Besides that, although Symbian has a broad ownership base, the owners (again except Psion) are all cellular companies. Having a big network company on board might therefore be useful. ®

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