Palm, the original smartphone brand, to switch to headphones? - The UpStream

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Palm, the original smartphone brand, to switch to headphones?

posted Monday Oct 18, 2021 by Scott Ertz

Palm, the original smartphone brand, to switch to headphones?

Palm has had a long and complicated history. Palm was independent, then it became part of 3M, but its OS was used by Handspring, which was external and more popular than the 3M company. Eventually, they got their brand's focus back and launched webOS at CES 2009, but the sale to HP also screwed up that focus. But, that brand has been licensed in recent years for new products, most famously the poorly-named Palm Phone, a tiny 3.3" display Android phone. But a new tweet (with the image above), suggests a big change - to headphones. The company plans to announce what its been up to on October 26, 2021.

It is no secret that the PLUGHITZ Live team has had a long-term relationship with the Palm brand. We covered the switch to webOS from Palm OS at CES 2009. We switched the entire company to the Palm Pre when it originally launched. But, things went wrong for the company, with HP's short-lived CEO Leo Apotheker destroying the brand and replacement CEO Meg Whitman not reversing the decision.

But, this possible change into headphones is an interesting move. It shows a particular market awareness, as true wireless earbuds are a major portion of the consumer electronics market right now. A lot of companies are making a move into the true wireless earbud space because it is a lucrative place to be. But, many of those companies are adding these products because they are a solid companion to their existing lineup. Microsoft is a great example of this - true wireless earbuds are not a natural fit for Microsoft. But, because of the company's current focus on the Surface Duo phones, a companion product for music (both the Surface Earbuds and the Surface Headphones) is a useful move.

The problem for Palm is that the Palm Phone was never popular, partially because of its original tie to an existing Verizon phone, and later because it was lost in the shuffle. Today, the website lists every SKU of the phone, both solo and bundled, as out of stock. So, what, then, is this phantom earbud intended to help enhance? Is Palm teasing us with this image while actually planning to launch a new phone? That might be a welcomed addition to the market, especially if Nokia's recent success is an indicator. But, it could all be a plan to be a companion for parent TCL's recent phone push.

The ideal situation here is that Palm launches both at once - a new phone in the style of their past devices (which is how Nokia has succeeded), AND quality true wireless earbuds to go with them. A modern, Android-powered Pre-style handset, with the best physical keyboard I've used on a phone, would be a device I would want to take a look at, and would consider as a daily driver. But, the Palm brand has hurt a lot of people, similar to how the Nokia brand had hurt people. However, Nokia's brand issues came because of its relationship with Microsoft, and not because of its own mistakes. Palm did everything to itself, and it simply might not be possible to move past it. We'll see what Palm has planned on October 26.


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