Palm brand apparently acquired by TCL Alcatel for 2015 US smartphone push

Having already disposed of the majority of its abortive Palm acquisition, HP has now handed over the brand. While there has been no formal announcement from either party, all the evidence points towards the Palm brand having been snapped up by TCL Alcatel, presumably to badge a range of smartphones.

Most of the detective work for this story has been done by the webOS loyalists at webOS Nation. They spotted the domain name had a holding page featuring the Palm logo and the slogan “Smart Move”, which also happens to be the slogan for Alcatel Onetouch, the smartphone brand of TCL Alcatel. They also found a document that named the new owner of the Palm brand was one Nicolas Zibell, which is also the name of the Americas boss of Alcatel Onetouch.

In case you’d forgotten, webOS was the mobile OS used by Palm which, for a few months at least, seemed positioned to be a significant alternative to Android and iOS. That didn’t work out and Palm ended up selling itself to HP, which apparently had no idea what to do with it. HP soon gave up on having its own mobile platform and, after making it open source, flogged it to LG, which now uses webOS in its smart TVs.

If everything is as it seems, Alcatel Onetouch is about to rebrand at least some of its phones in the Americas as Palm. Alcatel is already pretty strong in Latin America, so it’s debatable whether moving to the Palm brand there would offer any benefit. It’s less strong, however, in the US, where there is likely to be the most lasting affection for the Palm brand, so this would seem to indicate a 2015 US push by Alcatel.

The Alcatel Onetouch USP is its focus on the middle and lower price tiers. At CES 2014 they were keen to stress this to anyone who’d listen and their smartphone numbers over that year were impressive. Most global smartphone shipment growth is in the lower price tiers these days as anyone who can afford an expensive one already has one, so the high end is mainly about replacement sales.

Xiaomi and Lenovo are smartphone vendors that have also benefited from focusing on cheaper devices, albeit with a heavy focus on China. Lenovo will complete the acquisition of US-friendly Motorola this year and Xiaomi has strong international ambitions, so 2015 looks like the year of the Chinese smartphone invasion in the US.

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