With $10/month Verizon service, startup Palm intros phone companion category

Basketball player Stephen Curry is an investor in Palm. (Palm)

A California startup is looking to create a new category of device—essentially a smaller and more portable version of a standard smartphone. The company’s new smartphone companion gadget—dubbed the Palm—pairs with users’ existing phones, is about the size of a credit card and features $10-per-month service from Verizon, the exclusive carrier for the gadget.

Perhaps the most recognizable element in Palm’s strategy is the name of the device—the Palm Pilot and Palm Pre were among the many Palm-branded “personal digital assistants” and smartphones introduced to the market before Hewlett-Packard acquired Palm roughly a decade ago and discontinued Palm-branded devices.

The founders of Palm Ventures—the startup behind the new Palm companion gadget—are Howard Nuk and Dennis Miloseski, two former Samsung executives. They licensed the Palm brand from Chinese manufacturer TCL, which also owns the BlackBerry brand for phones.

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And Palm Ventures announced its first device: the Palm, which costs $350 and sports Android 8.1, a 3.3-inch HD screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, a 12-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, an 800mAh battery and LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a SIM card.

“We want to bring people out of their tech and into their lives,” the company states on its website. “Palm is an ultra-mobile product that’s about the size of a credit card with smart features and quick actions, so you can instantly access everything you need and nothing you don’t—even when your smartphone is nowhere to be seen.”

Verizon, along with the rest of the nation’s wireless network operators, will likely be watching the device with interest as it potentially represents a new category of devices that they may well be able to sell service for. The success of the Palm could signal a willingness among a certain class of customers to pay a little extra per month for a device that might be a little more portable than a giant-sized phone like the iPhone XS Max or Galaxy Note 9.

Already, operators are rallying around wearables like the Apple Watch, which offers calling and texting functions, among other services, and also carries with it a $10-per-month line of service.

Indeed, those accessory gadgets are currently creating a significant amount of momentum in operators’ quarterly reports. “We also had strong branded postpaid net additions of 1 million, due in part to the particular success of the Apple Watch and other wearables,” T-Mobile’s John Legere said earlier this year during his company’s quarterly conference call, according to Seeking Alpha.