BlackBerry saviour ready to revive Palm Pilot as an Android smartphone?

Is the Palm Pilot about to make a comeback?Justin Sullivan

Chinese company TCL is reportedly looking to follow-up its recent resurrection of the BlackBerry name with the KeyOne smartphone by restoring another classic tech brand. Speaking in an interview, TCL's marketing manager Stefan Streit teased that the iconic Palm license could make a return in 2018.

The famed PDA company was a firm favourite with business and power-users in the 1990s to early 2000s thanks to its multi-tasking Palm Pilot pocket computers. The brand eventually fell foul of an industry it helped inspire however, with smartphones - notably the iPhone and, ironically, BlackBerry phones - eventually surpassing the webOS devices in sales by an enormous margin.

Palm was ignominiously shuttered in late 2011 by HP, which had purchased the brand just over a year earlier. The name didn't completely die though, with TCL purchasing the Palm trademark in 2014. For three years the Palm has remained dormant - until now.

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Speaking to French site Android Planet, Streit hinted that Palm devices could hit the market as early as next year. He also teased that much like its ambitious BlackBerry revival, this would be no mere retro renaissance.

While Streit was purposely ambiguous when questioned on the topic, he appeared to suggest that TCL's Palm project will result in Palm smartphones rather than the traditional PDAs the brand is remembered for - unless you count the ill-fated Palm Pre family, which... we're not.

Considering the popularity of Samsung's Galaxy Note series, it's possible TCL is looking to establish Palm in the phablet market where large-screen devices that mimic the stylus control and multi-tasking focus that made Palm a household name.

TCL has yet to make an official statement on the matter, although that hasn't stopped speculation about what a Palm device would be like today. As LG owns webOS, it is likely that any future Palm products will follow TCL's BlackBerry strategy and look to Android as an OS solution.

With BlackBerry and Nokia both enjoying a resurgence in the past year under new ownership, could a Palm comeback be the next nostalgic hit to entice smartphone buyers? Time will tell.

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