Will Palm's Foleo sell?

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.

3-palm-foleo-email-and-treo.jpgMy 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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Seems like a device inspired by the OLPC project.

    But, executives that hate dealing with a laptop and finding a place to plug in will love it. They do need to be able to edit power points, Word documents and spreadsheets.
    • Sorry but no...

      "They do need to be able to edit power points, Word documents and spreadsheets."

      Not on a Linux OS.
      • Where've you been?

        Linux has been able to deal with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for a while now (via OpenOffice). I'm pretty sure this particular device uses a ported version of DocumentsToGo.
  • Too limited functionality

    I would rather pay more for the Sony Vaio TX series. It is the same size and weight, and has every function a traveller could need. Just need to pay for it.
  • Why bother?

    Palm has one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave. They could have dusted off the LifeDrive and spruced it up a bit. Instead they've built something nobody needs or wants. RIP Palm. Tell MC Hammer hello when you enter the world of has-beens.

  • People don't see possiblities

    I think people are currently missing the point of this "Foleo"
    Who says this device only has to work with a Treo?
    What if this works with the most hyped device of the Year.
    You know what I am talking about, that IPhone.
    Now think about the application you can now run off your Iphone.
    Or even better yet for the l33t people out there, how about connecting the Foleo to those Motorola Mobile Linux phones or even god forbid those Windows Mobile phones...

    Your Smart has just replaced your laptop for most people or it allows you VNC or RDP access to a remote terminal at the office without lugging around anything having to worry about that lost laptop.

    I can tell you alot more companies will sleep easier at knowing that the Foleo is lost rather than the company laptop with personal information for over 40,000 employees.

    I think this product might be a new trend for certain markets but it will definitely take time for people to get use to the idea.

    I wish Treo well and hope that next Treo phone steps up the game or else they will just be an accessory maker with the Foleo being their flagship product.
    • re: People don't see possiblities

      Sorry about the last post.

      Smart should read smartphone.

      But I hope everyone gets what I trying.

      Great replies so far from everyone.
  • Good Luck!

  • I think I am in love

    An underpowered laptop that is light and good for the go. Provided that because it doesn't require as much power that it can have more battery life, it could be the ultimate tool in a not so niche market.

    I love my laptop, but after two hours or even four hours, they put out too much heat and don't take to travel all that well. Not bad, but still there is room for improvement.

    Sounds like an improvement on the Tablet PC and at the price that Origami was supposed to be.
  • Another breakthrough for Linux acceptance

    I wish them luck with the device. I did however notice that with the announcement of the device the news commentators called it the "geeky" Linux operating system. This is another indication of the negative image that Linux needs to shed. (Maybe put on them by a competitor?) This also indicates someone who has not used Linux and has the fear of something new (ie NOT windows). Hopefully this will help to remove this ignorance.<br><a href="http://www.ingsoft.net">HOIATL</a></br>
  • Don't bet on Palm's software...

    "it has Palm software so it will likely be more robust and useful on the fly than a laptop"

    The company that earned Palm its reputation as a creator of robust and useful software is now known as ACCESS. Who knows what's going to be running on this new contraption, but don't bet on it being anything like Palm OS.
  • This could be a pretty big niche...

    I would love to have a device with these specs: instant-on, full size keyboard and screen, long battery life, auto-sync with my Treo, no wires, online anywhere. Mobile devices (not just Palm but any full PDA) have everything I need except the ability to work fast and see everything. This fixes that. And it eliminates the laptop to sync with and otherwise waste time with. If this is done right, it will be ultra simple, open an go as quickly as you could on the pda.

    A person who is not already a heavy smartphone/pda user won't see the beauty in this product.

    Nobody (almost nobody) will ever get rid of their PDA for a UMPC, but this just enhances the PDA...

    One more thing... I want one cable to travel with and a A/C to USB plug in (same cord that does USB-Treo can also power the Foleo). If this does that, then I can empty by travel bag...
  • agreed

    I bought a Palm PDA because I figured it had its own universe of software in place. It did, but practically all of it is $20-$50 utility packages of stuff that should have been bundled with the PDA to begin with. Useful software exists, but one has to dig through lots of sites to find it.
  • if they'd included an unlocked built-in phone

    I'd consider buying it.
  • Isn't the purpose of smart phones....

    Isn't the primary purpose of smart phones to be able to view e-mail and browse the web without having to lug around a bulky laptop? I just picked up a Gateway Dual Core Laptop for $575. Why would someone pick up a device nearly the size of a laptop, but with far less capabilities, for nearly the same price?

    Palm would be far better working on a more stable operating system, that doesn't crash all the time.
  • is this reinventing the the cyberwheel?

    Some time back I bought a device that did all this before the invention of Bluetooth. It was the HP 820. It had a built in modem, which was the top grade communication system at the time. I got it when HP was phasing out all WinCE devices with keyboards. I also had an HP 720, I think, The smaller device I used until the screen was melted by my wife's hairdryer. The 820 was too large to carry all the time. I no longer use the 820. I replaced it with a Palm i705 and a slip-on thumb board. It fits nicely into my pocket. The i705 had a built in radio network for internet use. Palm closed the system when wifi became the standard.
    Someone needs to bring back the smaller clamshell form with chicklet keys and Bluetooth, like the old HP 720. Some smartphones have this feature. The thumb boards of Blackberry and the i705 are rough on people with arthritis.
  • Foleo

    Nice idea. DO NOT like the idea of it requiring the cell phone for full functionality. I am also afraid that it is still too large. Should have remained poketable, similiar to the old Zaurus.