HP has announced it will acquire erstwhile handheld device maker Palm, Inc. for US$1.2 billion. Under the deal, approved by both companies’ boards of directors, HP will pay US$5.70 per share, which is almost double the trading price. Palm makes smartphones that run the Palm webOS mobile operating system, which will allow HP to provide true multitasking and information sharing across platforms. The deal is expected to close during HP’s third quarter, which ends July 31.

IBM’s smarter transportation work with Russian Railways has been cited by technology business magazine IEEE Spectrum as a project having the most potential benefit to mankind. For its work to overhaul the railroad’s software infrastructure, IBM was awarded the 2010 IEEE Spectrum ACE Award for Technology in the Service of Society. Russian Railways handles almost 80% of all transportation in Russia and serves 1.3 billion passengers and tons of freight. “We are seeing a renaissance in rail with the advent of new smarter techniques and technologies,” said Keith Dierkx, director of IBM’s Global Rail Innovation Center, in a statement acknowledging the award. “Analytics and sensors are transforming rail systems around the world to be faster, greener and safer. Rail passengers are benefiting from more reliable and seamless travel as well as real-time data on train schedules, while freight operators can deliver goods with even greater economic efficiencies.”

Microsoft has signed HTC Corp. to a patent agreement that will allow HTC’s mobile phones to run the Android platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties from HTC, with which Microsoft has had a long business relationship. Microsoft has entered into more than 600 licensing agreements since it launched its IP program in late 2003.

Ness Technologies, which offers global software development services, reported quarterly revenues grew 6% for its fiscal quarter ended March 31 from the same period a year earlier. Revenues were US$133.3 million, while GAAP net income was $700,000, down 72% from the previous year’s quarter. With its earnings statement, the company also announced it was acquiring Gilon Business Insight Ltd., an Israel-based business intelligence services company, for an undisclosed amount. That deal is expected to close during the second quarter. Ness had announced it would cut non-strategic or unprofitable smaller operations, and in line with that, will sell its software distribution operations in Europe and its Asia Pacific system integration and application development operations. All of those sales are expected to close in the second quarter.