Palm probably wasn’t a name you were expecting to hear from again, but to the surprise of many, the company recently posted some teasers on Twitter foreshadowing a new gadget coming out later this month.
While Palm hasn’t officially revealed detailed info about its upcoming release, the teaser pics in its tweets make it quite clear that Palm is prepping to release a new pair of wireless earbuds. And judging by the silhouette of the device in the background, it seems Palm has taken some inspiration from Apple’s ubiquitous AirPods.
For a company that’s most well known for making phones and PDAs (remember those?), the decision to move into the audio market might seem like a strange pivot, especially since the last time we saw something from Palm was in 2018 with the tiny Palm Phone. Unlike other smartphones, Palm basically bucked every modern phone trend when it made the Palm Phone, which was designed so that you would spend less time looking at your phone in order to focus more on the world around you, while still providing the essential smartphone functionality.
However, it seems in its quest to make a comeback, Palm is taking a slightly more conservative approach by launching a simpler and cheaper device in its upcoming earbuds. This is a strategy we’ve seen recently with OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new company Nothing, which similarly launched wireless earbuds earlier this summer as the company’s first product.
In choosing wireless earbuds, Palm can set its sights a little lower by making a somewhat simpler and less expensive product that doesn’t require Palm to worry about things like OSes or supporting specific 4G or 5G bands. And if Palm’s new earbuds are successful, Palm can take any revenue generated by sales of its earbuds to grow its device portfolio from there.
That said, I still have a couple of questions, as the Palm brand is currently owned by TCL, which makes me wonder if Palm’s new earbuds will be borrowing any tech from existing TCL earbuds. Additionally, back when the Palm Phone came out, NBA superstar Stephen Curry was listed as both an investor and an advisor to Palm, so it will be interesting to see if Curry has any input on Palm’s upcoming earbuds.
However, the real challenge for Palm will be trying to penetrate the wireless earbud market, which is already completely saturated by multiple offerings from established brands like Apple, Samsung, Google, Sony, and others, not to mention smaller (but still influential) gadget makers like Nokia, Motorola, and more. It’s a crowded landscape, which means Palm’s earbuds will need to be really special, lest Palm risks the brand going on hiatus for another few years.
And while one of the teasers strongly suggests that Palm’s new earbuds will support built-in ANC, that alone doesn’t seem like it will be enough to make Palm’s earbuds really stand out. Regardless, with Palm’s announcement date set for October 26, we won’t have to wait too long to find out for real.