Will Palm's Foleo sell?

Summary:Webware's Rafe Needleman has a picture of Palm's latest gadget--the Foleo, an "Internet interface appliance" at the D5 conference.My first thought: Palm just cooked up a baby Linux laptop that connects to a Treo.

Webware's Rafe Needleman has a picture of Palm's latest gadget--the Foleo, an "Internet interface appliance" at the D5 conference.

My first thought: Palm just cooked up a baby Linux laptop that connects to a Treo. Or maybe it's Palm's entry into the UMPC race.

Rafe says:

The device, at about $500, is priced closely to low-end laptops. It's a lot smaller, of course, and it has Palm software so it will likely be more robust and useful on the fly than a laptop. Also, it synchronizes data to and from a smart phone. So it's a workable companion to people who live cellphone-centric lives. There are a lot of execs like that. The thing is, most of them already have laptops.

Based on Palm's statement it appears the company is trying to walk the line of selling a new device while preserving its smart phone market share.

In a statement, Palm founder Jeff Hawkins says:

"Smartphones will be the most prevalent personal computers on the planet, ultimately able to do everything that desktop computers can do. However, there are times when people need a large screen and full-size keyboard. As smartphones get smaller, this need increases. The Foleo completes the picture, creating a mobile-computing system that sets a new standard in simplicity."

Palm also indicates the likely sales pitch:

The Foleo mobile companion has a large screen and full-size keyboard with which to view and edit email and office documents residing on a smartphone. Edits made on Foleo automatically are reflected on its paired smartphone and vice versa. Foleo and its paired smartphone stay synchronized throughout the day or at the touch of a button. This powerful combination is for productivity-minded business people who want a more complete mobile solution for email, attachments and access to the web.

And it adds the following capabilities:

  • One-button access to full-screen email
  • Instant on, instant off
  • Rapid access to various applications
  • 10-inch screen and full-size keyboard
  • Web search and browsing via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
  • Editors for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus a PDF viewer
  • Compact, stylish design that fits on an airline tray table
  • Lightweight at 2.5 pounds
  • Fast, simple and intuitive navigation
  • 5-hour battery life
  • Linux OS

In other words, Palm is trying to get you to carry another gadget. Can we get a little gadget consolidation going please? If I combined the 2.5 pounds of the Foleo plus a Treo I get something just a bit lighter than a laptop. Despite some nice features the Foleo is unlikely to be a Palm savior.

More reading on the Foleo:


Business 2.0: Why Foleo could be the end of Palm.

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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