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