Is the Palm wireless smartphone coming back?

The wireless rumor mill has been buzzing about the comeback of the Palm smartphone. Is Palm coming back? And if it does, can it be successful this time around in an Android and iPhone world?

There always are all sorts of crazy rumors always floating around the wireless industry. One is that Palm is coming back, and that Verizon Wireless will introduce it later this year. That’s right. Palm, one of the two original smartphones. Before the Apple iPhone, Google Android and Samsung Galaxy, there was Palm and Blackberry. The last was the Palm Pre. That was their last gasp, then they faded into the sunset.

So, will Palm be reborn? And if it is, will it make an impact?

In the 1990s, smart phones were not a big deal. They were a business device. There were only a couple hundred business-oriented apps. We all carried a plain wireless phone like we all had a POTS phone on the wall in our kitchen. If you recall, POTS meant plain old telephone service.

Then there was the big bang in wireless and everything suddenly changed. Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone and Google Android followed and the industry started on an amazing growth curve that lasted the past ten years.

Today there are more than two million apps. Android has the most apps. iPhone the second most apps. Windows, Amazon and Blackberry have the least, but it’s still much more than a few hundred when Palm ruled a decade ago.

Over the last decade, we have seen many other handset makers try to enter the smartphone world with their own versions. It should have been a wild and wacky growth industry. However, Android and iPhone are still the leaders holding roughly 85 to 90 percent market share. That’s incredible strength.

Does Palm have a chance against iPhone and Android?

So, with that said, does Palm stand a chance? The engineers that created Palm a decade or two ago were brilliant designers, but lousy marketers. So, whether Palm is successful this time around depends on who is running the show. That’s the important question.

Another question goes beyond design. There have been many well-designed competitors to the Samsung Galaxy which uses Google Android, however none of them have carved out a successful niche for themselves. The marketplace is still split between Apple iPhone and Google Android with Samsung Galaxy eating up most of the market share on that side.

My take is it all depends on whether Palm will partner with Android. If you recall, Blackberry tried to make a comeback without Android. They failed. Without this partnership, I don’t think there is any way for them to break through all the industry noise.

When Blackberry eventually did partner with Android, it was too late. The new Android-less brand had been etched into the minds of the marketplace.

If Palm is an Android they have a chance

So, in order to have any chance at all of success, Palm needs to partner with Android from the start, and burn that image into the minds of the marketplace. That’s their only path to success.

If Palm leadership are great marketers, and if they can capture the imagination, and if this new version will be a solid smartphone with access to the apps users want, then they may be able to carve out a small slice of the handset market. However, many others have tried and failed.

That’s why I speculate Palm will line up with Google Android from the start. If they stand any chance of carving out a small slice of the smartphone pie, they must give users the ability to have access to everything they can get on an Android device. Otherwise users won’t give them the time of day.

There have been many competitors who have tried and failed. Samsung is king of the Android hill. They will be Palm’s biggest competitors.

Wireless growth wave

Remember the growth wave I regularly talk about? Companies and products are either on the growth side of the wave, or they have crested, or they are falling. Palm experience all sides of this growth wave a decade ago.

Will they be prepared this time? I hope so. I would like to see new life breathed into the lungs of a long, lost love. Either way, I hate to say it but with Samsung having the vast majority of Android market share in the U.S. marketplace, Palm probably won’t be a big deal.

With that said, they can still be successful if they can carve out a small slice of the marketplace. This is a big challenge since others have tried and failed over the last decade with really top-notch devices.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next. No details have been announced yet. So, that means this may never even happen. But there are rumors and rumors are always fun to speculate about. We can always hope!

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