When HP unceremoniously shut down Palm in 2011, it felt like the end of an era. The PDA and smartphone maker's glory days were in the past by then, but it developed a string of hits in the late 90s and early 2000s, and few names in the industry inspired as much zeal and loyalty as Palm Inc. did. To a die-hard community, losing the company was a blow.
Well, now it's back — sort of. A startup out of California now uses the Palm name, and it's serious about breathing new life into the brand. Unlike Palm circa 2010, though, the new team isn't trying to go up against the iPhones and Galaxys of the world. Instead, its first smartphone — known simply as the Palm — is a minuscule device you're meant to carry around when you don't want to bring your main iPhone or Galaxy along. Here's the question, though: can a smartphone company find success when all it aims to do is build is a sidekick?
That we're even considering a question this strange is a testament to the fact that the new Palm has basically nothing to do with the old one. In a past life, founders Dennis Miloseski and Howard Nuk were design VPs at Samsung, and when they started hunting for a hardware maker to help produce the tiny phone of their dreams, TCL agreed and offered them use of the Palm name. (Remember, the Chinese company acquired the trademark from former owner HP a few years ago.) From then on, the job wasn't just to build a curiously small smartphone — it was also to revive and modernize of mobile history's once-great brands. That's a very tall order, especially for such a weird little device.
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