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Verizon could sell a 'new' Android brand in 2018

Here's why a fresh Palm phone matters.

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Palm's legacy is primed to pick up where it left off.

CNET

The largest US carrier could take a chance on an unexpected phone brand by the end of 2018.

Verizon is rumored to sell a new Android phone by Palm, a legacy name in smartphones, before the year is through, according to Android Police, citing "a trusted source."  

Reviving the Palm brand has been in the works since 2015, when Chinese company TCL picked up the rights to make phones under the Palm name. That much we already knew. 

What's more surprising is Verizon's alleged backing. Winning the US' largest carrier as an ally would be a huge benefit for the new Palm, putting the resurrected brand in front of a new generation of buyers who don't know Palm phones. That's because the vast majority of US buyers pick up new devices through their carrier's website or store.

Palm devices were a driving force in early smartphones (you might remember the Palm Treo), which declined after the brand was sold to HP for $1.2 billion in 2010. HP effectively killed phones and tablets running WebOs, Palm's proprietary software, a little over a year after buying the company's assets.

"Palm was ahead of its time in trying to build a phone software platform using Web technology," Paul Mercer, Palm's former senior director of software in charge of the WebOS interface, told The New York Times in 2012. "Perhaps it never could have been executed because the technology wasn't there yet."

When and if the first new Palm phone arrives, it will join the ranks of BlackBerry and Nokia, two other throwback smartphone brands hoping to make it in the modern day as comeback kids. Like Palm, BlackBerry is licensed by TCL. The Nokia Mobile name was scooped up by HMD. 

Palm phones were renowned for their capabilities as personal digital assistants and later, for the webOS software that stood in contrast to iOS, Android and Windows Phone.  

Neither TCL nor Verizon immediately responded to a request for comment.

Update, 2:24 p.m. PT and 4:45 p.m. PT: Added more background.
Clarification, March 29 at 8:05 a.m. PT: The purchase price of Palm has been tweaked.