In case TCL Alcatel is indeed behind the return of Palm, what would its plans be for the well-loved mobile brand? Here are some possible scenarios:
Alcatel OneTouch rebrands as Palm
Alan Morford, editor of webOS enthusiast site PivotCE tweeted this:
$5 says Alcatel completely rebrands as Palm.
— Alan Morford (@alan_morford) December 23, 2014
In 2007, TCL announced its plan to switch from Alcatel to its own brand, TCL, in five years. In 2011, however, it paid Alcatel-Lucent a $40-million license fee for the use of the Alcatel brand until 2024. (It is already using the only the TCL mobile brand in China, but it is still Alcatel OneTouch elsewhere.)
Would TCL abandon the Alcatel brand and use Palm instead? It wouldn’t be difficult to understand should TCL decide to do this.
Palm is the smartphone pioneer. There was a time when smartphone equals Palm the way World Wide Web equals Yahoo! during its early years. Palm is something that people can’t forget. It has a loyal—if not sentimental—following. Palm has “died” a few times, but its fans refuse to give it up.
Alcatel Onetouch has very little brand recognition in the US, while the Palm name has significant recognition and customer goodwill.
Palm is probably not that popular in the emerging markets where Alcatel OneTouch is already a leading player, but this situation also gives TCL an opportunity to write a new chapter in Palm’s history.
Palm becomes another TCL brand for mobile phones
TCL Communication currently has two mobile and Internet brands: TCL in China and Alcatel OneTouch for the rest of the world. Palm could be its third—maybe for the Americas.
The new Palm makes Android phones
This is probably the most popular theory right now, with some sites even reporting that Palm will return as a cheap Android phone. But I think this is not necessarily the most likely thing to happen. Why? Read the next section.
The new Palm makes Android, Windows, Firefox, and webOS phones
Whether Alcatel OneTouch becomes the new Palm, Palm becomes another TCL mobile brand, or Palm becomes just an Alcatel line, new Palm phones won’t likely be limited to Android. Alcatel actually has also created Windows and Firefox OS phones.
In 2012, Alcatel announced the One Touch View with Windows Phone 7.8. It also recently showed off a Windows phone in its Pop 2 series. Alcatel OneTouch Chief Marketing Officer Dan Dery, in an interview with the Guardian, also expressed Alcatel’s interest in making more Windows phones:
Windows 10’s cross-device integration – from smartphone through to PCs – will help us make an entry into mobile computing, but with a different mindset taken from the mobile business not the computer business.
Palm used to make Windows phones. It seems like the new Palm will make Windows phones again.
Alcatel, with its OneTouch Fire, is also one of the first phone makers to release a Firefox OS-powered device. It also claims to be the first brand to introduce Firefox OS in the African market.
How about webOS? Well, webOS is now open source. And while LG appears to be focusing more on using webOS for TV, there is no indication that LG Silicon Valley has dropped the Open webOS project. There were even rumors that LG is working on a webOS smartwatch.
But wait, there’s more: TCL, LG, and Qualcomm are all members of the AllSeen Alliance, which pushes for a common framework for the so-called Internet of Things. (TCL appears to have bought the Palm brand from HP; LG bought webOS from HP; and QualComm bought Palm patents from HP.)
Our friends at webOS Ports have also been actively working on LuneOS, a port of webOS for TouchPad and select Android devices. If given enough corporate support, they may be able to come up with an operating system that can be used with consumer products.
Maybe TCL could even use the old PalmOS, a.k.a. GarnetOS, if they would update it with WiFi. While it is no longer referenced on Access’ website, I just learned today that GarnetOS powers rugged handhelds by a New-Zealand based company called Aceeca.
(It’s really only HP that has given up on Palm and webOS.)
Palm becomes Alcatel OneTouch’s e-commerce site for mobile phones
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month, Alcatel’s Dan Dery said they were preparing for the launch of their own e-commerce platform, where they will sell their devices. He said it “is going to start rolling out by the first quarter including in Europe, the U.S. and Latin America.”
The mynewpalm.com site, which is now being linked to Alcatel OneTouch, appeared more than a month ago. Could Palm become for mobile phones what Amazon.com is for books?
Palm becomes the mobile component of TCL’s smart home project
Three TCL companies in November announced the creation of a joint venture for the development of the TCL Smart Home businesses.
TCL’s press release says “TCL Smart Home will leverage the smart integration of mobile Internet, big data and cloud computing in capturing the broad prospects for development of the Internet of Things.”
By downloading a single Smart Home application to tablets, smartphones or smart TVs, users can remotely monitor and control all household appliances, including smart TVs, smartphones, air-conditioners, refrigerators, etc., that comply with the smart home industry standard released by the AllSeen Alliance…
Could the Palm brand play a role in this?
But if I am wrong in assuming that TCL-Alcatel is the new Palm owner, then…
This is all just fantasy.
“Smart move” on mynewpalm.com is not related to Alcatel’s “Smart move.” Nicolas Zibell on the Wide Progress document is just a namesake of Alcatel’s Zibel.