Reports at webOS Nation, the fan/support site for the short-lived webOS platform that HP picked up when it purchased Palm Inc., and filipino webOS user MakaPalm, indicate that Alcatel OneTouch, originally a French smartphone brand but now owned by Chinese electronics firm TCL, has acquired all the residual brand and trademark assets from HP, and may be planning to resurrect the brand in some form or other. I’m sure many Teleread readers (as well as writers) will have cut their ereading teeth on Palm devices or Palm Reader ebooks, as I did – the picture for this article for instance is of Joanna Cabot’s original Palm m125 – and the revival of the Palm brand could have some interest beyond pure nostalgia value.
webOS Nation cites as one piece of evidence the looping video at http://mynewpalm.com/, which carries the Palm logo and a message “coming soon.” Other pointers include the fact that HP sold the trademark assets to a shell company called Wide Progress Global Ltd. (a very typical Chinese-style company name, for a British Virgin Islands-registered Hong Kong entity), whose VPs named in the transfer include one Nicolas Zibell, who also happens to be President, Americas and Pacific, of Alcatel OneTouch and TCL. Much of the detail is in the “18-page document posted on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website” that MakaPalm managed to track down.
I’ve used Alcatel phones, and can testify that they’re reasonably reliable and solid generic Android devices for the low to middle end of the Android smartphone market. Some of their devices are certainly attractive, but overall I could see plenty of reason for Alcatel and TCL to seek further points of differentiation in an increasingly crowded and commoditized market.
That said, exactly what Alcatel does plan to do with the assets it’s acquired remains unclear, and above all, there’s no indication that the webOS intellectual property has also been transferred to the shell company. There is also no indication as to whether webOS, outside its enthusiastic fanbase, would have anything like enough broad appeal to justify Alcatel putting out devices based on it. Still, the entire series of reports is fertile ground for speculation.