Most people’s first smartphone was a Blackberry or an iPhone. Mine was a Palm Centro, an inexpensive, relatively modest little number with a physical keyboard, expandable internal storage, and the ability to record phone calls as I talked – an ability no Android phone has yet to replicate. I went through three of those things before I finally traded up for an Android handset in 2010, but I’ve always been a bit sad about how the Palm brand disintegrated. Now, however, signs are beginning to point to a comeback of sorts – in the form of a Palm-branded Android phone.
According to a post on webOS Nation (via 9to5Google), Hewlett-Packard sold the rights to the Palm name, trademark, and logo to a company called Wide Progress Global Limited, which seems to have been created with the sole purpose of hanging onto certain assets without necessarily being a part of a different company or corporate entity. Think of it as the corporate equivalent of a storage locker, but instead of keeping your snowmobile and old magazines, it keeps corporate logos and trademarks.
Anyway, the post points out that Wide Progress Global Limited’s vice president is Nicolas Zibell, who also represented the company in taking possession of the aforementioned Palm assets from HP. Zibell is also the President, Americas and Pacific, of Alcatel Onetouch, a China-based maker of Android handsets primarily in Asia. Furthermore, the website MyNewPalm.com features an animated loop of the Palm logo with the words “coming soon” and “smart move” appearing below it – and “smart move” is Alcatel’s slogan.
It would seem like a foregone conclusion, then, that Alcatel will be bringing Palm back in the form of a new line of Android smartphones. It’s not a bad idea at all considering that Palm has a decent amount of name brand recognition in the West – certainly more than Alcatel. And while Palm may not have the same reputation as Apple or Google, it’s still a mostly positive brand for most people – at least those who didn’t closely follow its hastened demise at the hands of increased competition and HP’s mismanagement.
Palm made personal digital assistants – the phone-less precursors to today’s smartphones – a viable product and helped usher in today’s connected world. As such, as long as they found some way to differentiate from the rest of the competition, Palm-branded Android handsets might perform well in the United States and Europe. The saddest part of all this is that it seems less than likely that Palm Android phones would really be any different from the other budget Android phones that float around your local Target and Walmart.
I’ll always carry a torch for Palm. I really hope that Alcatel does something interesting with the brand to justify that.