Palm is a name that tends to generate a warm sense of nostalgia for many older mobile gadget fans. Today, a new report claims that TCL plans to bring back that name by launching new devices with the Palm branding sometime in early 2018.
While attending this week’s IFA 2017 trade show in Berlin, the Netherlands-based site Android Planet quoted TCL Marketing Manager Stefan Streit, who said the company was preparing to launch new Palm-branded products next year. He declined to say exactly what kinds of devices it will release with the Palm name.
Launched in 1992, the Palm Corporation first released small mobile devices like the original Palm Pilot PDA (personal digital assistant), which was a precursor to the modern smartphone. It also developed its own operating system for PDAs, the Palm OS. As those devices fell out of favor in the 2000s, the company went ahead and developed full smartphones, using the successor to Palm OS, webOS. However, sales of those smartphones, including the Pre, were not high enough to compete with the iPhone and the growing number of Android devices.
In 2010, HP acquired Palm, but its attempt to launch new tablets and smartphones using webOS was a disaster. It finally sold the webOS team and content to LG in 2013, and the Palm brand name to TCL in 2014. Since then, TCL has not made any moves to use the Palm name, but now it looks like the company is finally getting close to launching new products with the branding. TCL already uses the Alcatel name to sell smartphones in the US and other markets, and in 2016 it acquired the rights to design and make phones with the BlackBerry brand. It launched its first such phone, the BlackBerry KEYone, earlier this year, and will launch a second phone with the name in October.
While the Palm name may be very well known to the older tech audience, many younger smartphone and device buyers may not even be aware of the brand. It will be interesting to see what kinds of products TCL will sell with the Palm name, how they might try to get some nostalgia mileage out of the brand (as it did with the BlackBerry KEYone), and how HMD Global has done with the launch of its Nokia-branded Android phones.