The tech press was a little wrong-footed today by a surprise announcement from Palm or specifically, the brand’s new owners, TCL (Alcatel).
Though we had hoped TCL would make it’s own webOS play for the mobile phone market, this was largely rejected by TCL’s George Guo at it’s CES press conference. Nonetheless, in it’s press release of January 6th, TCL did pledge to involve “Palm’s very own community, making it the largest scale crowd-sourced project ever seen in the industry.”
Many scoffed and anticipated a ‘me-too’, Android clone device, but we can now reveal that in the last few short months, TCL has not only moved quickly, but made good on it’s intentions. The company has quietly contacted many of the top people involved in Palm hardware and software development over the years and additionally, many of the company’s greatest fans and harshest critics. Were you among them?
It is of course, early days, but some aspects of the game plan have been confirmed. Yes, we hoped for webOS, but like LG, TCL is wary of that option which promised so much, but ended as a great monument to the old Palm Inc. TCL’s advisors urged them to look keenly to the entire history of Palm for pointers to a radical new direction. In doing so, lost treasure was rediscovered: Cobalt. This, the original successor to PalmOS, had a new kernel and multi-threading features derived from the legendary BeOS. CobaltOS, updated to modern standards will be TCL’s mobile OS of the future and eleven years after release, will finally ship on a device!
In hardware too, TCL will bring a radical update. Many are the partners who shipped PalmOS devices in the past and TCL will tap into that expertise, whilst at the same time building an eco-system outside the traditional market to act as a bridgehead into the general consumer sector. The first hardware partnership has been announced and will tackle the twin bugbears that the current players have failed to address: Battery life and ruggedness.
The current trend is for huge, battery-sucking screens on fragile wafer-thin phones. Many third party manufacturers have happily stepped up to address these fundamental design flaws, offering chunky rubberised holsters, often incorporating back up batteries. TCL plans to disrupt the market by turning this model on it’s head. It’s first partner has experience building tough, high-performance devices for industrial, retail and delivery service customers. It is here that TCL will make it’s first hefty entry into the market, leading with a practically unbreakable phone, week-long battery life and building an app eco-system ready to take on the lucrative consumer market with later devices.
This much we have gathered from our contacts with top people in the industry, but for you Palm fans out there, desperate for news, we’ll throw out some unconfirmed rumours:
1. Sony’s phones may be waterproof, but do they actually float?
2. Touch, stylus and hardware keyboard input – combined in one smooth interface. You heard it here first.
3. The last time you saw a Palm device, it was probably a delivery person asking for your signature on a handheld screen. When Amazon delivers by drone, who will take your signature? Maybe the next Firephone?
We know you are as excited as us by this news. Finally, Palm is doubling down and delivering on our expectations. They said the Palm Pre could kill the iphone. If the new Palm Inc. can deliver this ground-breaking product, it could kill the Pre!
Stay tuned! We will bring you more updates in the coming months!