TCL buys Palm brand from HP, vows to restore its luster by crowd-sourcing revival

LAS VEGAS--TCL Communication, the China-based company behind the Alcatel OneTouch device brand, has purchased the storied Palm brand from Hewlett-Packard. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The move confirmed rumors that first surfaced last week. "We are interested in the brand because we believe the brand has value," TCL CEO George Guo told PhoneScoop. "It was once a very strong brand and there are many fans of this brand around the world, including people at TCL."

To revive the brand, TCL said that it will create a new Palm Inc., a U.S.-based company that will take ownership of the Palm brand. The new Palm Inc. will be based in Silicon Valley, as the company Palm once was before it was acquired by HP.

Part of TCL's strategy for the brand will be to involve the Palm fan community in future products, TCL said, "making it the largest scale crowd-sourced project ever seen in the industry." TCL indicated it wants to do more than just build new devices under the Palm brand. The company also wants to deliver "absolute breakthrough innovations" in technology, design, operating system, applications, user experience, marketing, the supply chain and business models.

TCL plans to commit its own engineering talent to the effort but also wants to draw on Palm enthusiasts and the tech community at large, according to PhoneScoop. The company is confident it can make the Palm brand relevant in mobile again. "Palm was an original pioneer and we want to keep it that way," Guo said. "We want to attract the people who have ideas on how to revive the brand in a meaningful way."

The exact timeline of the rollout of the new Palm brand will be communicated at a later date, TCL said. TCL expects to eventually offer both Alcatel OneTouch and Palm-branded phones in the U.S. market.

HP famously purchased Palm and its patents in 2010 and aimed to sell phones and tablets running Palm's webOS operating system. However, under then-CEO Léo Apotheker, HP shuttered its smartphone business shortly after buying Palm for $1.2 billion. HP made webOS an open-source project after that and in 2013 LG Electronics acquired the webOS mobile operating system from HP; LG has since used the platform to power smart TVs, not smartphones.

Guo said TCL probably won't use webOS. "We are open to all ideas, but probably not webOS," said Guo. "Palm built by Palm fans is the intent."

For more:
- see this TCL release
- see this PhoneScoop article
- see this CNET article
- see this The Verge article

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