back to article Time to party like it's 2005! Palm is coming BAAAA-ACK

Of all the intellectual property rights on which our future prosperity depends, perhaps trademarks are the most undervalued. The deep emotional power of a brand endures, long after its parent has expired. Don't believe me? Well, Palm is coming back. Yes, Palm. Two filings made with regulatory authorities in the US confirm …

  1. Ol'Peculier

    At this rate, by 2020 we'll all be back to wearing pagers...

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Aren't smartwatches basically pagers? They display your messages, but you can't easily reply to them without resorting to a phone (it's just the phone is in your pocket now instead of being a landline in a phonebooth).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Apple Watch works pretty good without a phone

        The latest Apple Watch (with built in LTE) can fully work without a phone.

        You can make phone calls on it and make and reply to text messages without being tethered to a phone.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Apple Watch works pretty good without a phone

          The latest Apple Watch (with built in LTE) can fully work without a phone.

          At this point it's not a smartwatch any more, it's a small smartphone, with a wrist strap. Congratulations, Apple got you to buy a second (concurrent) phone from them, I'm sure the ghost of Steve Jobs is very happy.

      2. JohnFen

        I have to say, no pager I've ever seen can do what my Pebble does.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm considering a blockchain rolodex startup.

      1. Chris G

        Blockchain Rolodex

        I'm in!

        Will it be Gestetner compatible? I often need to print off addresses.

        1. Spiracle

          Re: Blockchain Rolodex

          I'm considering a pen device with an e-paper screen and e-carbon-paper behind that.

          1. wurdsmiff

            Re: Blockchain Rolodex

            Sounds like the ideal companion to my eFiloFax!

      2. choleric

        I'm still waiting for a 3-D printer to print me a stylus strong enough to let me chisel stone tablets like I used to. It's the original Word processing device.

    3. T-Bo

      The more unlucky among us, especially in healthcare, still do ... :(

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Make that diapers...

      For some reason I read that as "wearing diapers...". For some of us, that's not an unreasonable prediction.

    5. steviebuk Silver badge

      Bit like this pager.

      Love Columbo.

      1. David Paul Morgan

        I remember that episode

        Also, columbo quite often had story lines using video tape, telephone answer machines, paging / text devices, secure keys etc.

    6. gc23

      If it wasn't for my job, I would be wearing a pager. There is a nationwide pager service provider that I have used that allows for unlimited alphanumeric paging for about US$15 a month. I have one of their brand-new alphanumeric pagers--a Motorola Adviser Gold knockoff--sitting in a drawer in my study ready for use.

      I absolutely detest cell phones. I always have. But I've always been a bit of an anachronistic person in respect to communications. (I'm an amateur radio operator also.)

    7. Anonymous Coward

      > At this rate, by 2020 we'll all be back to wearing pagers...

      I'm wearing a pager as I write. It's around my ankle...

  2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    They were all called PDAs at one point. They've gone the way of the ipod now.

    1. spold Silver badge it an iPDA I'm sure some folk will buy it.

      1. Boothy

        I suspect PDA would actually be a more fitting name for modern devices, rather than using 'Smartphone'.

        Being able to make calls (i.e. the 'phone' part) seems to be almost a nice-to-have side feature now, rather than the primary purpose of the device. How many smartphone reviews have you seen lately that have a large portion of the review, dedicated to the phone app itself and covering things like a calls audio quality?

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Most reviews seem to, er, focus on the camera aspect of phones nowadays.

          1. Boothy

            Quote: "Most reviews seem to, er, focus on the camera aspect of phones nowadays."

            I see what you did there! :-)

            This is something I've never really understood, this obsession with the camera, perhaps a generational thing? (I'm not a teenager, that would have been the 80s!)

            To me a camera on a Phone is a way to take quick snaps if you can't be bothered to take a real camera out with you, and for the occasional thing like snapping a receipt to make an expenses claim, or for unexpected situations like taking a photo after an accident/water leak etc.

            Most of these photos will only ever be seen on the phone, or a computer monitor or maybe a TV, and rarely if ever printed out.

            So to me, having a high quality camera is somewhat pointless when taking into account how the pictures (or video) is then likely to be viewed! Good enough, is quite alright with me.

            The only newer camera feature I've found of use in recent years, is the improved low light usage. As even my now oldish Oneplus 3 (which apparently is getting Android 9!), rarely needs the flash to take pics, even in low light, and I'd assume newer models (some anyway) are better than my device.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "this obsession with the camera"

              They no longer have any other differentiating technology - from most other perspective phones are more or less the same. To justify price you have the material used, maybe the screen res, and the camera. There are enough selfie-obsessed people to make extracting more money from them easy enough.

              Then you get people who can't shoot landscape - last week a truck carrying gas exploded and blew up a bridge on an highway here, and those shooting the scene only recorded ugly portrait videos - lot of ground before, lot of sky above, and microscopic subject. Maybe a good AI could shout "turn the phone horizontally, moron!"

        2. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          @Boothy; I agree. I've said more than once that if the PDA market hadn't been in decline for several years before the iPhone came out, it's possible that something like the post-Apple smartphone would have evolved from that direction instead- or at least it would have been marketed as such, rather than as a "phone".


          Why is privacy a phone feature that's never reviewed?

          How about a really maverick review covering the relative privacy - or lack thereof- of cell calls? Of device or software options for enhancing same? --oh-- right...

    2. Teiwaz

      They'll be PDS Now

      Personal Data Syphon

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The mistake of a non compatible OS....

    PalmOS had the first very large 'app stores'. Nokia and Sony Ericsson could not compete, and Nokia was still thinking 'telephone first', and was creating ugly devices.

    When they switched to WebOS (a stupid name also, giving the impression things run on the web and you needed an always on connection when they were still expensive), your PalmOS apps didn't work anymore. It was a lot of work for developers to port them to a wholly new OS.

    With alternatives emerging, developers often looked elsewhere. Years later, Microsoft made the same mistake a couple of times.

    Anyway, a Palm running Android is just for nostalgics, though.

    1. m0rt

      Re: The mistake of a non compatible OS....

      WebOS had a great UX though. Possibly still the best - the version that was running on the Palm phones that is.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The mistake of a non compatible OS....

        Before Sony Ericsson, Sony made the fanciest Palm OS device there was, covered in buttons, a colour screen (gasp!) swivelling bits and and a camera. See Sony Clie, PEG UX50 or PEG NR70.

        I miss Crazy Sony.

        1. m-k

          Re: The mistake of a non compatible OS....

          re. sony, I remember asking a rep about the price. It was around £1000. I said "oh", and then made a dash for a philips nino (and it served me for a long, long time as a digital notebook while travelling.

        2. Z80

          CLIÉ memories

          I've still got a Sony CLIÉ PEG-SL10 in the bottom of a drawer at home. 320x 320 monochrome display with green backlight, powered by 2 x AAA cells and with the ability to backup to Sony Memory Stick.

          With a Japanese dictionary app loaded onto it, it served me well on a trip to Japan in the pre-smartphone era. I've just remembered one occasion on the same trip where I beamed a location map of a place I wanted to visit onto it from my laptop via an Infrared dongle because I didn't have a cradle or sync cable with the proprietary connector.

          Pint because remembering things like this make you want to raise a glass to progress.


            AAA Batteries YEA!

            Progress NOT! What was the last device you bought that used non-proprietary batteries- or even removable, replaceable batteries!?

        3. cambsukguy

          Re: The mistake of a non compatible OS....

          I had Palms from the second Pilot to the Sony Clie.

          I loved them, never lost my data, not once.

          I got really good at data entry having spend mucho time playing Giraffe.

          I didn't like it when they changed Graffiti to make it easier for regular folk to learn but I got used to it.

            IT Angle

            Re: The mistake of a non compatible OS....

            Thank you. I still have the elegant collapsible keyboard that attached in a sec. I did word processing, spreadsheets, everything on it. All data synced w/my desktop beginning and end of day and, most important of all, w/no thought of a giant corp. and the NSA collecting any of it. Is there a device that provides even contacts/calendar/tasks/notes while guaranteeing that kind of privacy? Please advise if so, anybody. Just posting this question publicly nowadays probably makes me a suspicious character, but here goes.

    2. JohnFen

      Re: The mistake of a non compatible OS....

      "When they switched to WebOS"

      Yes, that switch marked the point at which I stopped loving Palm.

    3. Tom 35

      Re: The mistake of a non compatible OS....

      Well they did go to Windows Mobile first, I think that's what killed them. If they had gone to something like WebOS from the start...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Well they did go to Windows Mobile first"

        Because they rest on laurels for far too long with PalmOS - which, remember, did run on a 68000, not ARM. When the landscape changed, they were caught with their pants down, and had to find a solution quickly. Back then, also, Windows Mobile/CE was a better enterprise solution, with more applications, and before the iPhone made the smartphone sexy just because it was from Apple, they were mostly business devices, they were not stylish enough to be status-symbols.

        Sure, having two different product lines with two different incompatible OS was a very bad move, and it was a symptom of bad management. They had not a good roadmap for PalmOS evolution, and switching to a wholly new incompatible OS is always very risky - especially when good alternatives exist. They also wasted resources in the Foleo.

        Anyway, when they started I believe there was no way to go with something like WebOS, the hardware required didn't exist yet.

  4. Oh Homer

    "future prosperity"

    Sorry, but I'm not especially interested in the "future prosperity" of companies that manipulate people with deceptive branding. "Brands" being passed around like lumps of meat in a butcher's shop is of no benefit to consumers, who only end up disappointed with something that has absolutely nothing to do with the original product. Worse still, it actually tarnishes the memory of classic products, making them less desirable to retro enthusiasts.

    Productising names is perhaps the worst idea of all, in the dark realm of intellectual monopoly. The fact that it is then further abused to stop people selling genuine products at lower prices (the so-called "grey market"), is only further evidence that this morally questionable business model is probably not really conducive to our "future prosperity".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "future prosperity"

      '"Brands" being passed around like lumps of meat in a butcher's shop is of no benefit to consumers, who only end up disappointed with something that has absolutely nothing to do with the original product.'

      I dunno, the people who bought Bugatti Veyrons didn't seem that disappointed, even though they have very little to do with the Royale.

      1. m0rt

        Re: "future prosperity"

        I am not holding out much hope for the new 'Atari'.

        Which is a shame. Because that *should* rock the gaming world. Not with 3d immersiveness. Just easy to develop for.

        They should have gone for a Neo Geo on steroids. In fact, they should have just made it a Neo Geo clone. :)

        1. Teiwaz

          Re: "future prosperity"

          They should have gone for a Neo Geo on steroids. In fact, they should have just made it a Neo Geo clone. :)

          That brings back dubious memories.

          I bought a pocket color late in '99, it was pulled from Europe a few months later, the only games I managed to ever get for it were 'Street Fighter' clones.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "future prosperity"

        I dunno, the people who bought Bugatti Veyrons didn't seem that disappointed, even though they have very little to do with the Royale.

        A bit different - the market for both the original Royale and the Veyron was the obscenely rich who were prepared to pay for excessive engineering and exclusivity. The Royale actually priced itself out of that market, whereas Volkswagen were able to shift over 400 of their Golf-on-radioactive-steroids, so you might assume that the new buyers were happy.

        But in terms of being disappointed, if I'd laid out a million quid for a car, I'd be rather pissed off that around four years later Elon Musk was selling a family saloon that could beat it to 60 for £100k. Then again, the sole point of the Veyron is "excess", so I suppose the buyers will still be happy because it is so monstrous in all other aspects.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: "future prosperity"

          >>if I'd laid out a million quid for a car, <<

          I'll accept that there are a small number of billionaire petrolheads who do actually buy these things to use. Us lesser petrolheaded mortals will have to make do with the scraped knuckles from keeping an pre-electronics car moving.

          To the obscenely (& shallow) rich having one is all that matters, (even in a shed never seeing daylight). It runs alongside having the biggest Yacht / Jet / Tower. They just move on to the next exclusive bauble needed for bragging rights.

  5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Piloting Palm excellent read, by one of the founders. Explains the whole sad Palm -> USR -> 3Com - > Handspring saga. I was at 3Com when they bought USR, and got Palm as a bonus. The 3Com management was unable to figure out how to leverage Palm without driving the founders away.

    They really were clever little devices, lacking only wireless connectivity, as the clever little low-power WiFi modules hadn't yet been invented, so the only connectivity was through glacially slow IrDA or almost-as-slow serial sync through a PC. So close...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I remember the O2 Palm Pre ads of people moving like flowers.

    Always thought it was a dumb move on Palms part to do a deal with O2 to give O2 the Pre as an exclusive when O2 was the same network that still had the iPhone exclusively at that time and were heavily committed to pushing the iPhone.

    Launching the Pre at a similar price / contract level as an iPhone, when iPhone had so much more advertising behind it was a odd decision but I'm sure it made sense to someone's bonus payment that year.

    1. vir

      Re: Hmmm

      I had a Pre as my very first smartphone. I really liked the physical slide-out keyboard and the integrated wireless charging - while cool - helped me realize that it's not a feature I'm going to chase in the future.

  7. Chris G


    I preferred my Psion 5, the pen thing with palms and handsprings just drive me nuts, something important to o do and the damn pen has disappeared, similar problem with phones too, I have large hands and feet thick fingers, that's why a lot of my posts have weird spelling sometimes.

    I found the Psion keyboard just about useable.

  8. brotherelf

    Oh yes, Palms

    I owned a m100 or two, and even for a non-business type like 20-year-old me,they were pretty awesome. World time clock, scientific calculator with plot function, room for an ebook or two, and apps to manage your die-rolling and tables for whatever RPG you currently fancy. And what feels like near-infinite service on two AAAs. It's amazing what they did on 160x160 b/w with IIRC single-digit MHz. (Or was it 16, re-clockable to 8-32?)

    I keep wondering (but can't be arsed to do the back-of-envelope estimation myself): if you just made the "obvious and easy" upgrades: build chips with modern low-nm processes on lower voltage (but probably keep the speed and RAM levels), swap the display for 160x160 eInk, use LiPo batteries, how long would that run? A year on a charge?

  9. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    If the new Palm features a real keyboard and is cheaper than Blackberry, I may get one. I still actuatlly, really, use my Dell Axim X5 from time to time - the plug in phased array GPS module will find satellites in the middle of freakin nowhere. Hell to locate replacement batteries however.

  10. Teiwaz

    Runs Android

    It'll just be another Android device, poorly skinned with obsequious nostalgia to hook the misty-eyed.

  11. Stevie


    Forget Palm emulators! Give me a genuine Kickstarted Handspring Visor (with better buttons and none of the shoddy unsoldered, unsocketed surface contact daughter board connections) and you have my money.

    No color screens please, just a re-iteration of the Blue (or Green Or White Or Yellow Or Black) Visor c/w backward compatible slot so I can jack in my old Eyemodule or backup module, and the sync port so I can use my folding keyboard.

    And better buttons and no solderless, socketless, surface contact connections.

    1. David Paul Morgan

      Re: Bah!

      this thin handspring was my favourite 'palm pilot'!

      I also had the cellphone module, so was able to use it as a smartphone.

      (before that, used my panasonic gd93 as in infra-red modem!)

      My first Palm III was in Nov '99 and it was the one in the translucent green body!

      fantastic times.

      bizarrely, I never took to the Palm Pre and much preferred my O2 XDA / HTC Wizard WinMo handset.


      Re: Bah!

      Amen, Scrooge!

  12. JohnFen

    Awesome! I love Palm!

    "Well, Palm is coming back. Yes, Palm."


    "Two filings made with regulatory authorities in the US confirm that the brand, licensed by Chinese giant TCL in 2015, will appear on an Android phone very soon"

    Oh, so Palm isn't really coming back, then.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Awesome! I love Palm!

      PalmOS emulation is in existence. But I don't know if it will be included in these devices.

      1. JohnFen

        Re: Awesome! I love Palm!

        Yes, but that's a far cry from Palm coming back.

  13. steviebuk Silver badge

    I'm considering....

    ....a indexing system for a library that is on small cards that you then put in draws. You can have a wooden cabinet full of these draws*

    You can then get some Ghostbusters to come a long and clean up the goo off them.

    *Actually had that system back in my old school in the 80s. I loved it. For some reason I still want a set.

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Palm were crap, but they were all we had

    I had a ton of them, starting with the III, and ending with the Tungsten T|X. I had over a dozen. I had several Zires and Tungstens and they died quite often and Palm sent me replacements.

    First off, they had resistive touchscreens that required frequent calibration. I remember the surprise when I got my first smartphone and the capacitive screen never needed a calibration. You went through a process of "touch here. and here. and here."

    Second off, the touchscreens had a mildly stretchy material, so if you did the same motions over and over again (such as playing solitaire) it destroyed the calibration. You ended up having to touch calibration points that it considered off screen, so the calibration process failed.

    The black & white screens were awesome, as you could read them in the brightest sunlight. In fact, the brighter the light, the better the contrast.

    The color screens were SHIT. They washed out in anything brighter than candlelight and made it useless outside or in a bright grocery store.

    I did write a bunch of apps however, including a financial app that I ported to Android along with the data, meaning I have electronic checkbook records going back unbroken to 1993. That's nice.

    I consider my Android phone my always-connected PDA, as I sure as hell don't make or answer calls on it.

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  17. MrKrotos

    I really loved my Palm devices, one of my fav all time phones was the Treo 600!

  18. 2cent

    There's only one way I would touch it.

    If Palm would actually implement BeOS like they should have in in 2002.

  19. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    I went through the following over the years:

    Palm III

    Palm IIIC - Clearance item in Staples somewhere in Cornwall 50 quid IIRC.

    Tungsten T\T2 - Not sure if I bought another one due to upgrade or & then droppage.

    Tapwave Zodiac II - Personal favorite of which I bought several (Dixons\PC World clearance & Two'fers from US) for myself, backup units & for the kids.

    Metal construction, 2 SD slots & brilliant for inflight movies (A few shoulder surfers on one flight).

    Frequently seen & used in defeating Apophis etc by SG1 in Stargate:SG1.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I really would like a new version of the Veer. With the use of phones as 2FA and Android Pay, I'd like a small second phone to use for those jobs and in emergency so when the main one gets stolen it won't be a disaster.

    The Veer was tiny, it had a 2.4 inch screen running webOS, a slide out keyboard, a magnetic connector with a magnetic headphone jack so that accidentally yanking on the lead didn't cause damage. From the back it looked like a large river pebble. A modern version could fit an iPhone 4 screen into the form factor. 16G, 2G RAM, NFC, BT, wireless charging, mobile hotspot, slide out keyboard that also answers and ends calls, no need for GPS or expansion, no front camera, job done.

    However, I suspect the actual product will be a small, cheap rectangular slab with no keyboard and low spec parts and the only Palm-like thing about it will be the logo.

  21. darklord

    I loved my Palms

    I had a V (company) and V3E of my own later And I loved them, However my phone does everything the palm did.

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