There’s a new Palm phone. It’s due to be released next month.
Now, if you are a long time Palm enthusiast (and reader of this blog) you will no doubt be telling your heart not to beat too quickly because to put it mildly, things have not worked out well in the past.
We already knew that TCL / Alcatel had bought the brand (only). The possibility of a new phone running webOS was dismissed. The speculation on the webOs Nation forum was that we would be seeing a standard Android slab with the Palm logo stuck on, though no one could figure out quite how that would be a success.
In August, there were some leaks that seemed both intriguing and potentially disappointing. A small phone? OK! A low specification? Uh…
You don’t have to wonder any longer. The curtain has been almost fully raised and we can confirm that the new phone is… both intriguing and potentially disappointing. Here are some bullet points:
- It appears that the new Palm is in fact a startup that approached TCL with their plan.
- TCL backed them and handed them the Palm brand.
- “Pepito” was a codename. It’s just “Palm”.
- The reason the specs look like a ‘weekend’ phone is because it’s a weekend phone.
- It is in fact a ‘companion’ phone to your other, big phone.
We are just a little webOS blog, so we have no inside sources or review model. There is an apparently regurgitated press release on Fast Company. You can then read what Dieter Bohn has to say at The Verge.
A number of webOS community members have done valuable work in maintaining popular services on our old webOS devices (not to mention keeping them working at all). But given the number of services that no longer work on webOS, using one of the original phones has much the same effect as the ‘Life Mode’ (AKA aeroplane mode) offered by this new device. However, I’m not going to condemn it.
The potential criticisms are obvious:
- Why not just sell a smaller phone?
- It’s only available as an add on device, only on Verizon in the U.S.
- It costs $350.
It’s true that there seems to be an increasing desire for phones that are smaller and for services that respect a balanced life rather than attempting to addict us to various feeds. There are few choices available for those that want these options. Within that context, the new Palm phone is different and distinctive. As a ‘lifestyle phone’, it is possible that it will appeal to trendy and fairly well-off people and actually sell. However, the Verizon exclusivity may limit access even to that particular demographic. If enough are sold to keep Palm in business, they could extend the concept to other networks and countries. It’s possible that the next model could build on that. Pepito2 could have better specs and be able to stand alone, usable as a companion device or a daily driver.
Of course, I’d say that an ideal OS for some kind of synchronizing connectivity across devices would be webOS, but that’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN, unless the boot-loader is unlocked and we install it ourselves.
So I wish the new Palm luck. In historical terms, there’s very little about this product that’s new, but it seems that it could fill a niche that’s opened up in the current smartphone market. This pricey life-style toy could evolve into the smaller, simpler phone for the many, but only time will tell and yes, I’m doubtful.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours? Here’s your comment thread.
Image credit: Palm.com