Palm Foleo – dead on arrival

I certainly didn’t see this one coming.

Palm have scrapped the launch of the company’s “mobile companion”, the Palm Foleo. Announced at this year’s D: Conference, the device was touted as a brand new product category in itself — a note-pad-sized laptop, designed specifically to dynamically sync with and compliment the computing power of a smart-phone.

Palm Foleo

The problem that Palm was attempting to solve with the Foleo, is that no matter how powerful cell phones have become, there are times when a larger screen and proper keyboard makes more sense — such as composing emails, editing a spreadsheet, or using web apps. To which Foleo critics replied: “that’s why we have laptops”.

For now at least, we won’t get to find out if there is room in the market for a device that sits somewhere between a smartphone/PDA and a fully fledged laptop.

Writing on Palm’s official blog, CEO Ed Colligan, explained the company’s decision:

In the course of the past several months, it has become clear that the right path for Palm is to offer a single, consistent user experience around this new platform design and a single focus for our platform development efforts. To that end, and after careful deliberation, I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering our next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market.

Colligan says that the decision will cost the company $10 million, and that he and co-founder, Jeff Hawkins, still believe that “the market category defined by Foleo has enormous potential”. He then goes onto suggest that there will be a Foleo II sometime in the future.

Many will feel that, despite having to make an embarrassing U-turn, Palm has made the right decision to put the Foleo on hold, and instead funnel all of the company’s efforts into its next generation, and overdue, smart phone OS. Pursuing two different platforms, in which the Foleo has a far from proven market, was just too risky for a company whose competitors include heavyweights such as Nokia and Apple.

For posterity, here’s a video of Hawkins D: Conference Foleo demo below…

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

3 Responses to “Palm Foleo – dead on arrival”

  1. SOmething between a PDA and a laptop could succeed. Picture an iPhone clone, but with a 5″ screen. Add 3G. Now you can go on the internet anywhere, anytime, comfortably.

  2. Decklane says:

    I don’t believe something between a PDA and a laptop will ever have any significant market. It’s simple… either it fits in a bag or it fits in a pocket. If it has the disadvantages that usually come with fitting in a pocket, but needs to fit in a bag then it’s useless. This simple fact of life is not going to change until a new display technology is invented.

    The problem is that geeks like us are coming up with these product designs. We all drool over this but it doesn’t allow technology to improve the quality of life of it’s users in any shape or form. It just creates more junk to lug around, more variations of interfaces, software, form factors… and … worse of all… yet more chargers to pack in your suitcase. ugh.

  3. Matt S says:

    I think a touch screen scratch pad would really work. Good old stylus and text recognition on a touch screen the size of a DVD case. Possibly a fold out.

    I commented on another post here a couple days ago that touted Rogers two voice lines to one cell phone and cited the problem being then you don’t have the other device to take notes on.

    I’d never buy something for my pocket with a keyboard.

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