Remember Palm? That 90’s company that created the famed Palm Pilot? Well they’re back, sort of. A tech startup based in the valley is taking on the moniker of Palm, which is a name which has lay dormant for years now. And the team of about a handful have crafted a new not-phone:
“We never call it a phone — it’s something new” says co-founder Howard Nuk.
The new device they’ve created is in simple terms a stripped down phone for people who value minimalism. It’s for those who need something that can place/receive calls and do the basics but don’t want to be compulsively using technology.
A key thing to note though is that the new device isn’t meant to fully replace your smartphone. It shares the phone number of your main phone and you take the Palm when you’re not in the mood for distraction.
The Palm device has been designed to compete with wearables like the Apple Watch and will make its debut next month for $350 at 1500 Verizon stores across the United States. But do people want it?
Also, side note: The product itself doesn’t appear to have a solidified name. So for this post I will refer to it as simply, the Palm…
Who’s Behind the New Company?
The new company was founded by Dennis Miloseski and Howard Nuk. Both of whom are veteran designers of silicon valley, having worked previously for Samsung designing everything from headphones to smartwatches.
The pair left Samsung in 2016 and “did a bit of soul searching” says Miloseski. “We’d spent the greater part of 20 years addicting people to technology.” Hence their vision for creating a device that was more minimal and didn’t promote tech addiction was born:
“We stripped it down to nothing.” explained Nuk, of designing such a product. “We took the cameras off, no buttons, no anything. [We thought] it should just be a black pebble, and magically light up and respond to your voice. From there, we started to put the features back in that we believed were absolutely critical.”
The two set out to make their concept a reality and along the way secured deals with companies like Verizon, who have actually provided some of the technology that has gone into the device. Verizons tech is what will allow you to share your phone number between your Palm and your main phone.
Palm also secured a deal with a massive factory based in Asia: TCL. Who also offered to make a seed investment in their idea on top of producing the product. TCL then suggested the name Palm, which they have reportedly owned the rights to since 2014.
Steph Curry Is an Investor and the New Face of Palm
Along the way the cofounders connected with Steph Curry and his team and managed to secure the NBA champ as both an investor and the new face of Palm. An old trick of the trade; Place a famous person on the cover and it will (hopefully) sell better.
Curry cites memories in an interview with Fast Company of using an original Palm Pilot as a child that had belonged to his father. This made him more interested in hearing more about the reboot of the brand, and ultimately he liked the vision and decided to get on board.
The Challenges Ahead
There are many challenges that Palm could face. But one of the biggest is that of competition. Big name companies have already acknowledged that people are spending a ridiculous amount of time on their phones. And some are even starting to make moves to please in this area, for example Apple’s addition of screen time to iOS 12.
What Palm is essentially doing for other bigger companies is market research. If Palm proves that there’s demand, other companies could just release stripped down versions of their current phones. Which could be potentially a huge problem for Palm.
The founders remain confident though that they could weather that sort of a storm. But of course we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first challenge that Palm faces is convincing the average person that what they need is a new Palm, not something like the Apple Watch Series 4. And that will be a massive challenge as Palm needs to become ‘cool’ again. So question time. Do you think Palm can establish themselves as a relevant brand again in 2018?