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Foleo | Palm's New Smartphone Companion

According to a short press release, Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm, Inc., will in a few hours later today (Wed, May 30) host a live video webcast to describe a new category of mobile device called the Palm Foleo which works as a “companion” with Palms Treo smartphones (Palm OS and Windows Mobile versions). The webcast will follow the announcement of this new product at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, California.

At 11:30 a.m. Pacific time, Hawkins will discuss Palm's vision for this new category and demonstrate the new product's capabilities, followed by a Q&A session.

UPDATE 2: I have to admit that I been quite shocked by Palm’s release of the Foleo yesterday – a product whose target audience and ultimate “purpose” I currently completely fail to understand and which has left me and most Treonauts totally underwhelmed.

Having said this, I can see how I might just be too thick to “get it” quickly and will therefore wait a few more days for it all to sink in before deciding to shred Foleo to bits or not…

UPDATE: First Foleo Images Now Available!

Palm Foleo

Another press release now provides further clues:

Palm today announced the Palm Foleo – the world’s first smartphone companion product.

Foleo has a large screen and full size keyboard to view and edit email and office documents.  Edits made on Foleo automatically are reflected on its paired smartphone and vice versa.  Foleo turns on and off instantly, features fast navigation, a compact and elegant design and a battery that lasts up to five hours of use.  US availability for Foleo begins this summer with pricing expected to be $499 after an introductory $100 rebate [making it either one of the most expensive “Treo accessories” or one of the smallest, lightest and cheapest portable computers…].

Built on an open Linux-based platform, Palm hopes to replicate earlier success with developers by drawing a large community to create new applications that will extend the mobile companion’s capabilities.  Already, Palm has partnered with DataViz and Opera Software, demonstrating the ease with which applications can be ported to the Palm Foleo.

Palm Foleo

Primary Capabilities and Attributes of the Foleo Mobile Companion

  • 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 for easy application development

Palm Foleo

This release also includes two quotes from:

Jeff Hawkins: “Foleo is the most exciting product I have ever worked on.  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 Foleo

Ed Colligan (Palm CEO): “As we did with the PalmPilot more than a decade ago and more recently with the Treo smartphone, Palm is driving innovation and capitalizing on emerging opportunities in mobile computing, a market full of potential.  The Palm Foleo represents our first product in a new line of solutions that will redefine how people work while away from their desks.  It starts today with a focus on wireless email and we expect the Foleo to grow in features and expand its capabilities as the platform grows.”

Palm Foleo

Avid readers of the Treonauts blog will note that the Foleo device concept closely resembles a vision that I first outlined nearly three years ago in August 2004 with a post entitled Treo PC & TV: The Race is On in which I argued that our Treo would in the future be combined with a full-size monitor and keyboard to more effectively replace the need for a PC.  Two other posts in September 2005 – The Evolution of the Smartphone and Smartphone as a Computer – further showed how our Treo could eventually become the ideal “non-PC-centric solution”. 

Naturally I can’t wait to get some more Foleo information and images.  I will update this post today following the webcast and other details provided by Palm…

Treonauts always push mobile computing boundaries

Posted by Andrew on May 30, 2007 at 01:07 PM


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by charlie | May 30, 2007 10:29:12 PM

I have a banged up Treo 650...would anyone please like to trade for a BB8800 or Nokia N95?

what a piece of shitte....

by Steve Sande | May 30, 2007 10:42:07 PM

So, considering that I can't even get my unlocked Treo 680 to work with a Mac to do dialup networking with my T-Mobile account (something my other phone, a T-Mobile MDA Windows Mobile device, has no issues with...), how do they expect me to be able to get a Foleo to connect to the internet with the 680???

Anyone who buys a Foleo is an eFool (yes, that is an anagram...).

by zorg | May 30, 2007 11:02:06 PM

I use my Treo 650 to do dialup networking with my Macbook Pro on Cingular. Some problems, but generally very easy and handy.

I thought I would never buy another Palm product, but I'm pretty sure I'll buy this and take it to a lot of places where I don't want to take my Macbook Pro. I assume they will support Blackberries and iPhones. They may even come out with an acceptable Treo 650 followon before iPhone goes 3G. (My next phone will be 3G, probably second gen iPhone, but I'll accept a Treo or possibly Blackberry.)

This is for any short trip where I'll spend more time with people than the computer and want to conserve carryon space. The VGA out and instant on make it perfect for simple presentations, basic web and email.

by Rome | May 31, 2007 12:58:59 AM


If 3G on a Treo is what you want, you have many choices today - Treo 755 and 700 p/wx on sprint, Treo 700 wx on verizon, and treo 750 on AT&T.

Iphone, of course, is not available, and none of the BBs has 3G today.

by Omar | May 31, 2007 1:51:00 AM

OH! Remember that popular music artist which had that really good song a while back and it was just that song you heard at almost everywhere.. Oh, yea their name was Palm...

C'mon, admit it.. The iPhone just got a bit more cooler..

by Ricky | May 31, 2007 8:33:08 AM

This is a joke right?

by Fred | May 31, 2007 10:38:08 AM

Sorry, Mr. Hawkins, but I expeceted much more than this after all these years of "research". I mean, with my Treo and my external keyboard I have everything but WiFi, and GPRS is a lot more prevalent here in Europe. This is just another superlight laptop.

by Gary | May 31, 2007 10:59:41 AM

Mr. Hawkins if this is your idea of innovation, then Palm is road kill on the tech highway. If Palm did ANY marketing research they'd have discovered no one wants to be more burdened with apparatus. That's why the Treo smartphone replaced the PDA and cellphone in my pockets three years ago. So Mr Hawkins lets see a smartphone evolution, not the next brick door stop.

by bvanwely | May 31, 2007 12:09:22 PM

I bought a used IBM(Lenovo) x30 for $400. About the same size and weight. Not quite as convenient, but a good 'holding pattern' until the OLTPC (or something similar with solid-state (really HARD) drives) finally makes it.

A media-capable sub-notebook with solid-state drive, SD expandability, automatic, easy phone integration and beaucoup de connectivity for under $400 is a great idea. But this isn't it. I'll wait.

by Dan | May 31, 2007 3:20:51 PM

Sounds like a Compaq Aero 8000 re-incarnate. I'm happy to see that this type of device is being resurected.

by JS | May 31, 2007 4:34:13 PM

In a few weeks (?) a phone will be available that has a unique new and innovative way to access files, enrich the browsing experience and that looks like it is right out of the Jetson's. I am a Treo fan, and am wowed by the iphone. It is also not without it's misses. I understand Palm is exploring a 3rd big thing, but I'm not too sure that being able to access/input office files, email and web pages in a familiar kybd/dumb lcd in a laptop form factor kind of way is an innovative step in the right direction. I spied the surface technology from MS, basically handling the same tasks in a new and innovative way, kind of changing the rules a bit. I think deep down we were all expecting a interactive panel of sorts that could handle all our mobile needs from Palm. Something that wowed us and allowed us to do what we do on our treos a different way..and replace it with such. I am trying to be enthusiastic about the Foleo... but it just is not doing it for me.

by Mary | Jun 1, 2007 10:18:11 AM

Maybe I'm missing something here but if one wants the Foleo's capabilities, why not just use a laptop? Personally, I don't want to lug along a second device but instead would like to see improvements made to the Treo line.

by Josh | Jun 1, 2007 12:39:11 PM

I don't have too much more to add to all of the comments here. It seems like I had a reaction similar to most Treo owners.....WTF? The Foleo is a rediculous waste of R&D time and money. I love my 650, but Palm has literally not innovated a shred since it came out, and when my Sprint contract runs out in December, I will now be purchasing an iPhone. I was sincerely hoping that Palm was going to make my choice between an iPhone and a Treo 2.0 a difficult one, but alas, no hope there. Such a bummer. I was so looking forward to the announcement on Wedenesday. I honnestly have no idea what Palm is thinking. The Foleo is 100% redundant. Who is going to buy this thing that already has a laptop? I hate to admit it, but this really is the beginning of the end for Palm. It shows them to be vastly confused about the market they are in. There were hints of this with their dismissive comments about the iPhone, but the Foleo seals the deal: Palm has lost.

by Cato | Jun 1, 2007 12:52:21 PM

The Foleo is a deceptively useful device, and I want one as soon as it's available.

I just talked to a colleague of mine who's been on a business trip all over Latin America and Central America recently - he's seriously tempted by this, purely to be able to leave his heavy laptop behind and make travelling a lot easier. He's even willing to buy a large SD card and sync his laptop's key data files onto the Foleo to enable this. And this is not a Linux geek, but a technical manager who travels a lot.

I think Palm has hit the spot just right here - there's a definite trend for people to dump laptops for smartphones, and this will make it a lot easier. Just having a sub-laptop that is instant-on and never needs antivirus updates is very attractive. My main Windows laptop, provided by employer, spends a huge amount of its time and disk throughput just running antivirus scans, software updates, etc, and Windows needs defragging and lots of general maintenance to keep it reasonably fast and secure (everyone should really run Secunia inspector to ensure non-MS apps are updated btw).

Making it Linux-based was very smart too - it enables them to do better instant-on with a platform they can fully customize, and use more power-efficient hardware, and of course the open source community will start porting apps and improving the platform for free, enabling the techier business users to get more done.

The more Windows bloat is on your heavy laptop, the better the Foleo looks...

Personally, I'd also use a Foleo to take on holiday - with a switch of SD card I could have non-work applications and data installed quite easily. I'd also like it to sit on the coffee table at home as a way of quickly looking things up (dictionary definitions, Wikipedia, TV programmes, etc) without going to sit at a PC, or fetching my work laptop from the home office. Could also be handy in the kitchen to consult recipes when cooking. I think the combination of real portability and a keyboard will be a killer advantage, at a price point where I can actually afford it 'just for fun'.

by Spambegone | Jun 1, 2007 1:01:31 PM

Is everyone posting on this blog aware that your email address is published as a mailto: link with the posting? If you use a real address, that's a guarantee of extra spam. Please change this like most blogs, and link only to the URL.

The page displayed on hitting the Post button says 'email address not displayed', so this is misleading, as well as a bad idea.

by Charlie | Jun 1, 2007 1:09:47 PM

Three problems:

1) The foleo LOOKS nice, and as several people have identified, there is a niche market for a laptop replacement. Apple seems to be exiting the subnotebook market again, so I could see buying one of these and using a Imac as a base machine. But as a treo companion? When 1/2 of Treos sold in the US have DUN disabled by carrierss?

2) Misplaced R here is a company that introduced a killer product (Treo 600) in 2001 and the only things they have done with it so far is a bit more memory, bluetooth, and windows mobile. What about camera, GPS?, high speed networking? This is what they are wasting their time with?

3) Developers. I assume that the linux system is related to the new Palm OS strategy, but given the vast differences between a smartphone and a laptop-style interface (one-handed, smaller screen, touchscreen) I can't imagine that applications will be easy to share across the two.

by Billbeme | Jun 1, 2007 2:56:30 PM

What a waste of time! All that effort could have been put into the Treo 800 with WiFi and SDHC support I want soo badly!

by Michael Jacobs | Jun 1, 2007 11:34:58 PM

Cato@39 - I agree. The more I think about this the more I think this is tremendous end-run around Microsoft. They're trying to redefine the PC as a set of smaller and cheaper devices, none of which need windows.

by DG | Jun 2, 2007 10:26:43 AM

Not much more I can add that hasn't already been said, but I just wanted to count myself among all those who've already expressed disdain for the direction such an announcement portends.

I run my trusty 650 with pride. What I need are enhancements to what we already have. I've seen nothing compelling in the 680, 700 or any other recent release to make me say "I need to upgrade for this feature". I'm still waiting for: a larger screen; serious onboard memory increase; wi-fi; better phone reception/functionality.

This Fooleo is really a disappointment. I hoped Palm was researching ways to make the Treo 6x really better. This suggests that, while I've been waiting, they've been wasting time.

by The African Nerd | Jun 2, 2007 10:30:15 AM

The problem is not with the foleo, but rather with the whole hype and build up. I myself was so distraught upon watching the live webcast. And why? An unnecessary build up of hype and tantalizing hints of a "top secret third category" of mobile devices. Even worse, it was fueled by many Treo blogs and websites, leaking everything from patent drawings and glorifying quotes from Jeff Hawkins.
I know I will never use this in the foreseeable feature, but the more i think about it, the more I realize there is a big audience for this device. Oh well, time will be the ultimate judge.

by Ken | Jun 2, 2007 8:47:10 PM

It connects to the Treo via Bluetooth ? That's great. Oh, I forgot. Bluetooth on the 700p is BUSTED. Palm is run a legion of idiots...

by Rob | Jun 3, 2007 12:32:30 AM

i don't get it. the people who say laptops are so onerous to carry around. are you frail 90 year old weak people or something? i have a regular laptop and it's not a problem to carry around at all. people act as if they're carrying around 5 bowling balls instead of a measly 7 lb laptop.

this release means nothing to me, unfortunately. i think it is nothing more than a glorified keyboard. i love linux. i love my treo, but this is an immense waste of research and development. :( i feel bad saying this because i know how much work goes into developing and releasing a product like this.

i'm more than fine with my laptop and my treo. i'm not a frail, weak, lazy CEO. there are only so many of those who find almost anything inconvenient. not me.

i'm looking for other future options. i'm worried the the iphone will be lacking on the corporate (exchange server) email side. we'll see. the iphone is initially very tempting.

by Harry | Jun 3, 2007 1:14:42 PM

Can someone explain to me why I wouldn't put the $499 towards a laptop? I can close the lid instead of turning it off and have it come back on pretty quickly. I can check my email and get on the internet using available software like PDA Reach. I can use the laptop at wifi hotspots. It doesn't sound like this would really allow me to leave the laptop at home. Also, where are you supposed to put the Treo if you're using it while sitting? Why didn't they build in a cradle or "hook" for the phone?

by DG | Jun 4, 2007 2:09:10 PM

Me again, I just had another thought (yes, it happens occasionally).

This Foleo thing is not a laptop. So, I've got my Treo, I've got actual work to do that requires the use of my laptop, AND I'm now expected to carry around a $500 "companion" to my Treo?

Their market test groups must have been a group of chimps...those who weren't already employed in Palm research and development.

by neurojava | Jun 4, 2007 5:09:33 PM

I use a T43 for work and an Apple Mac as my personal computer.

Do I need a big screen on the Treo - sure, would be a nice to have. Would I carry another device AND yet another charger?


Sorry Palm. Having stuck with you since the TX days, I have decided to move to HTC produced smartphones once I am done with my Treo 700p.

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