Stop looking everyone, the stupidest product of the year has arrived. It’s the Palm (2018), a device that should never have got past the point of conception, and certainly never have actually been made. It’s so baffling, even those that made it don’t know what it’s for. However, heads were nodded, budgets allotted, boxes were ticked, and production lines were fired into life. And now it has been vomited into the world.
All those present at the time looked at it, and had absolutely no idea on what to do with it. A marketing exec, keen to make their mark, blurted: “I know, how about a phone … that you use instead of your phone?” Genius. Tie it into the whole digital wellbeing obsession, push it towards the hand-wringers so concerned about being present in the moment, and it would be a sure-fire hit.
If Palm had stopped there, it would have just been a stupid product. But it didn’t. It ran with the idea, fleshing it out into something so utterly laughable, we’re still not sure they’re actually serious. It’s a short-sighted product with a marketing campaign built around it, to excuse the fact someone pressed the Go button on the production line, and now some of the money spent making it has to be recouped.
You’re probably thinking it’s not that bad, right? No, misguided ones, it’s worse. Let’s say you bizarrely really are looking for another phone to help you stop using your phone so much. How does Palm intend to do this? This is my favorite part. According to Digital Trends writer Brenda Stolyar, who spoke to Palm and wrote our hands-on with the device, “The creators believe its small screen will put you off from wanting to use the Palm for long periods of time.”
It’s called the Palm. It’s also made by Palm, kind of. So it’s the Palm Palm?
Read that one more time. This phone has been deliberately engineered to be annoying to use. Thinking that takes a special kind of genius. It’s not for active outdoor-types who don’t want to damage their expensive phone because it’s made of glass, so it’s going to break if you drop it. Don’t worry about the IP68 rating either, because that’s not exactly uncommon, and is found on phones that haven’t been specifically designed to irritate you.
You can make calls, send messages, upload all your contacts, take pictures, and download and install any Android app you like. That’s called a smartphone, and is no different from the one you already own, just smaller and more infuriating. If it didn’t run apps, or take photos, or do anything else that sucks our time, then maybe a case could be made for it lowering use. Instead, the only cursory feature vaguely related to lowering phone use is a jazzed-up Do Not Disturb mode, that every other phone already has.
Palm itself seems to know how foolish it looks, and appears to be backing away from the whole, “disconnect from technology,” aspect. In an interview with Bloomberg, Palm Ventures co-founder Howard Nuk says the tiny phone is actually for when you don’t want to carry a big phone around, but want to remain connected. Confused messaging is rarely the sign of a well-conceived product.
What if you’re a masochist, want your daily life to be filled with pain, and plan to buy one? Not so fast. It has to sync up with your main phone so it’s not really made to be used on its own, has to come from Verizon, and you need to use the proprietary Verizon Message+ app. That, along with the pathetic eight hours of battery life, will certainly make me want to use the Palm 2018 less, if nothing else.
Absolutely no-one, until now, has thought about releasing a secondary smartphone to help reduce primary smartphone use.
Astonishingly, we’re not finished. As madness set in at Palm when the horror of what it had created was unfolding, someone came up with the idea of making a sleeve that holds the phone and you wear on your arm. You can go out and buy one of these cases already, because cyclists and runners sometimes use them. What you won’t do is go out and buy another phone at the same time.
We’re going to have to stop, as it’s almost too much. But we’ve got to mention the name. It’s called the Palm. It’s also made by Palm, kind of. So it’s the Palm Palm? Did anyone not on day release have anything to do with this product? Clearly not when coming up with the price, as it’s $350. Or if you’re really committed, a two year contract is available. And committed is exactly what you should be.
Just buy a smartwatch
We’ll concede that reducing smartphone use is a worthy endeavor. Apple and Google, Facebook, Huawei, and others all have software solutions to help you do so. Absolutely no-one, until now, has once thought about releasing a secondary smartphone to help reduce primary smartphone use. Why? Because it’s beyond witless. In the same way that buying a second, small phone to take out with you when your large phone is too large. The Palm Palm (2018) is the product the rolling eyes emoji was created to represent.
You either want to step away from your phone, or you don’t.
Perhaps the software options to cut down on scrolling through Instagram don’t appeal. Interestingly there’s a product that already does what the Palm aims to do, and in a more attractive, more sensible, and far less ridiculous fashion.
It’s called a smartwatch, and you can buy one for less than half the price of the Palm, you won’t have to sign your life away to Verizon, and you won’t have to explain why you’re using it to everyone you meet. If you want autonomy, there’s the cellular Apple Watch Series 4, and a handful of cellular Wear OS watches too.
There’s genuine mileage in using a smartwatch to minimize smartphone use, if it truly bothers you. You’re still connected, but in a less intrusive manner. No, you probably won’t be able to perform complex tasks, but that’s the point. You either want to step away from your phone, or you don’t. Whatever your reasons, buying another phone will never, ever lower your smartphone use, and no-one who buys a big, expensive phone needs to buy a smaller second one.
Whatever the plan is, you’re way too early for April Fool’s Day, Palm.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.