I WAS LIKE,‘WHAT IS THAT? DOES IT WORK NOW? CAN I HAVE IT?’”
SAYS CURRY OF FIRST GLIMPSING
THE NEW PALM.
take his opinions seriously when he chimes in about the fit
of an accessory or the look of a product’s packaging. For
instance, they made the spandex sleeve grippier after Curry
found that it tended to slip on his arm as he threw three-pointers—300 of them per set—during training sessions.
Though Curry doesn’t claim to call the shots at Palm,
he’s not a figurehead, either. For any celebrity, “it’s a mistake to think, ‘I’m going to put my name on it, and it’ll be
successful,’” says Ammunition founder Robert Brunner,
whose design firm worked with Dr. Dre and LeBron James
on Beats headphones and Lady Gaga on a line of Polaroid
products, among other collaborations. “People see through
that. They can understand when there’s a lack of authenticity in something, and they’ll leave it behind very quickly.”
Curry’s extracurricular activities beyond Palm are
manifold. In April, he signed a development deal with
Sony that spans movies, TV, games, and VR. Then there’s his
philanthropic work, such as the basketball camp he hosted
for 200 girls, ages 9 to 16, in August—to help “close the opportunity gap,” he has said. Still, his visits to the startup
often stretch well past their official end time. In one case,
his input proved pivotal. Palm had planned to call its gadget the CoPilot. Along with conveying the sense that it was
designed to be a companion to a big smartphone, the name
further linked the new Palm with the Palm Pilot legacy. But
it “didn’t roll off the tongue very well,” sniffs Curry, who
persuaded the founders to go all in on the Palm brand. He
likens the contribution to the scene in The Social Network
when Sean Parker casually informs Mark Zuckerberg that
“TheFacebook” should remove “The” from its name. “That
was my moment,” he says, chuckling at the memory.
team is congregated around the table where Miloseski and
Nuk work each day, editing the on-screen text that Life
Mode will use to explain itself to users. (“Life Mode is off,”
they agree, beats “Life Mode has been turned off.”) Marketing head Collin Willardson—a recruit from underwear
purveyor Mack Weldon—walks everyone through the storyboards he’s sketched for a promo video, with stick figures
of Curry and others integrating the Palm into their lives.
Jeff Hawkins launches
which helps create the
Casio Zoomer, a rival
to Apple’s Newton
Assistant.” The company also devises
Graffiti, a simplified
system, which it sells
as add-on software
for the Newton.
Pursuing a Microsoft-like software licensing
strategy, Palm rebrands as PalmOne
and spins out its
software arm into a
prompting Palm to revert later to its original
name and reacquire
to its own platform.
Palm execs Ha wkins,
Donna Dubinsky, and
Ed Colligan depart
to found Handspring,
which licenses Palm’s
software for its
own PDA, the Visor.
When Palm acquires
2003, it gets the execs
the best smartphone
of its era.
No w part of modem
maker USRobotics (
itself swallowed by
3Com in 1997), Palm
releases its o wn PDA,
the $299 Pilot. Small,
above all—easy to
use, it’s the industry-changing blockbuster
that the Newton and
Zoomer were not.
Palm releases the
Palm V, whose sleek
aluminum case makes
earlier Palm Pilots
look like plasticky
“The goal was beauty,”
Hawkins later explains. “Beauty,
Perhaps the most
it’s a smash.
The smartphone era is
well underway, and
Palm is a leader. The
Treo 650 may be the
hottest model of the
moment, boosted by
apps that let users do
to zap aliens.
Long before its rebirth in 2018, the pioneering technology
brand flourished—then foundered.
ing shooting when the entrepreneurs arrived with a slide
deck and a nonfunctioning model of their device, which
they’d code-named Pepito after a French brand of cookie.
Curry had a plane to catch and had blocked out half an
hour for Palm. But he found the gadget so intriguing that
he blew right past that window and had to scramble to
make his flight. (Fortunately, they held the plane for him.)
“From the jump, I fell in love with [it],” he remembers, and
envisioned “how I could use this product in my own life. I
was like, ‘ What is that? Does it work now? Can I have it?’ ”
Turning Curry’s enthusiasm into an investment still
took a few months. During that time, Palm was also talking with Verizon. Both deals fell into place in early 2018,
with Verizon securing exclusive rights to sell the Palm.
Verizon is also producing its own line of accessories, such
as a sparkly Kate Spade wristlet case. It also provided the
technology that lets you share one phone number between the Palm and your main smartphone, so you can
call and text on whichever one you have with you.
Some of the value Curry brings to Palm comes from the
fact that he’s active, family-oriented, and, while digitally
savvy, prefers living in the moment: “He is the persona we’re
trying to make this for,” says Woodland. Miloseski and Nuk