Palm Foleo Cancelled!

I just received a shocking email from representatives of Palm. Ed Colligan has just posted to the Palm blog announcing that the company has decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion in its current configuration:
http://blog.palm.com/palm/2007/09/a-message-to-pa.html.

The full text of the blog is included below.



“As many of you are aware, we are in the process of building our next generation software platform. We are very excited about how this is coming together. It has a modern, flexible UI, instant performance, and an incredibly simple and elegant development environment. We are working hard on this platform and on the first smartphones that will take advantage of it.

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 our energies on delivering our next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market. We will, of course, continue to deliver products in partnership with Microsoft on the Windows Mobile platform, but from our internal platform development perspective, we will focus on only one.

Because we were nearly at the point of shipping Foleo, this was a very tough decision. Yet I am convinced this is the right thing to do. Foleo is based on a second platform and a separate development environment, and we need to focus our efforts on one platform. Our own evaluation and early market feedback were telling us that we still have a number of improvements to make Foleo a world-class product, and we can not afford to make those improvements on a platform that is not central to our core focus. That would not be right for our customers or for our developer community.

Jeff Hawkins and I still believe that the market category defined by Foleo has enormous potential. When we do Foleo II it will be based on our new platform, and we think it will deliver on the promise of this new category. We’re not going to speculate now on timing for a next Foleo, we just know we need to get our core platform and smartphones done first.

I would like to thank our customers for their interest in Foleo. I know there will be disappointed folks who were looking forward to carrying a Foleo for all their mobile computing needs. I am certainly one of them. I would also like to thank the developers who have supported our Foleo efforts. They have been loyal to Palm and have worked hard to deliver some compelling solutions on the Foleo platform. I know that they will understand that the right thing to do for the long run is to focus on one platform that will live for years, rather than invest energy in a one-off solution. We will make every effort to make sure we bring our developers forward to our next generation platform.

This decision will require us to take a limited charge of less than $10 million dollars to our earnings. This is a lot of money, but it is a small price relative to the costs that would be required to support two platforms going forward. This decision is in the best interest of our customers, our team, our products and our shareholders. I hope this renewed focus at Palm will allow us to deliver more compelling solutions to our core smartphone market, and it will allow us to position ourselves for the long run around one Palm experience.”

All I can say is wow… I was actually looking forward to trying the Foleo. I know I dissed it when it was first announced, but the more I thought about the device, the more it intrigued me.

Although it is disappointing not to see something almost revolutionary from them, as a Palm user for years and years, I hope this focus on one platform will finally see them headed down the right path. All I can say is good luck to Palm as I don’t want to see them fail.

What is your take on this?

11 comments… add one

  • Joel McLaughlin September 4, 2007, 7:08 pm

    Well, this is good and bad. The bad thing is this device could have been a nice one to play with and I will miss the opportunity to try it. The good thing is, it wasn’t well received for it’s intended purpose. My feeling is a good Smartphone companion is a laptop. Foleo was too large.

    1
  • WirelessAndy September 4, 2007, 7:12 pm

    I too was looking forward to the Foleo.

    Yes, this was totally thrashed by many for what it didn’t have. Not me. I thought it filled a interesting niche: Lean email/web machine in a notebook form factor.

    Yes, there are many alternatives out there, but sometimes you just want a stress-free (less expensive) lightweight notebook alternative. Not everybody wants a do it all gadget that does stereo bluetooth, 3G, WiFi, HDTV playback, 500GB HD storage space… I’ll take simplicity and a workable form factor anyday.

    Choice is good. Sad to see an alternate sidelined!

    2
  • Rob Tillotson September 4, 2007, 8:14 pm

    I too am quite disappointed. I was planning on buying a Foleo on launch day, because I would really like something in between the small size of a phone and the bulk and battery life of a laptop. Something just powerful enough to be used for browsing, email, and writing, with a big enough keyboard to type comfortably on, and which doesn’t require a bulky padded bag and a bunch of power cords. I have a Macbook, which has great battery life, resumes when opening the lid almost fast enough to be considered instant-on, and is pretty convenient as laptops go… but most of the time, all I’m using it for is email, browsing, writing, and the occasional round of ssh (which the Foleo would surely have covered as well, given its Linux roots). So why NOT carry something like a Foleo instead? It makes sense to me, but then I don’t have my lips firmly wrapped around the nether regions of the nameless (but you know who they are) gadget blogs who have done nothing but complain ever since the Foleo was announced. (I wonder what they would have been saying had Apple introduced the same exact product… probably something about how Steve was a visionary who has seen the untapped potential in a new computing niche, or something.)

    So, what do I do now? I don’t see anything else in the same product space, and that annoys me… guess I’ll start dragging my laptop everywhere, or keep using a folding keyboard while squinting at my phone…

    3
  • William Kuch September 4, 2007, 9:57 pm

    I am not surprised. I never saw a use for the product and it seemed to be taking resources away from the current Palm Products. Palm still doesn’t have a version of the desktop that works reliably with Vista.

    As an early adopter of the Palm, I want to see it succeed and survive. When the Pilot was first offerred, I combed the back streets of TsimShaTsui to find one. I then upgraded it and evntually moved on to the Clie for price performance reasons. When Sony dropped the line, I purchased a T/X and have been using it since.

    Today I can listen to Internet Radio, watch downloaded movies, play songs, IM, surf the web, trade stocks, map a trip route, carry my financials and more on a device that fits in my shirt pocket. What more could I ask for. for less than$300.

    I hope Palm keeps on improving the the handheld and doesn’t put all their eggs in the cellphone basket. They’ll never win that battle. Personally, I’d put my money on Apple in the cell phone wars.

    Bill

    4
  • B. J. Swanson September 5, 2007, 10:15 am

    Not surprising. I’ve been a die-hard Palm user for over 10 years, until the iPhone. Palm’s customer service and support was horrible, my Treo 680 would no longer sync with my PC and no fixes, all the new things were ‘clunky’ at best. The Centro looks like a yawner. Earlier C|Net published a scathing letter to Palm liking them to the horse & buggy. A few years ago, Palm was king. Now, they’re a has-been. After a month of trials and tribulations, I switched from the Treo 680 to the iPhone. Sold the Treo on eBay and loving the iPhone more each day. Particularly since I bought Apple stock, it went up $5.70 yesterday and is soaring again today. Disappointed in Palm but not looking back.

    5
  • Eric September 5, 2007, 1:44 pm

    I am glad that the product was canceled. When I first saw the Foleo I thought they had lost their minds. I know that they don’t want to compete with their own product lines, but that is exactly what they need to do.

    I find it quite interesting the direction the company has taken. Many years ago, some of their engineers left and started Handspring. Handspring created this great product called the Treo. Palm purchased Handspring and now the Treo is their leading product.

    Palm isn’t creating great products anymore because they don’t want to cut into their own sales; unfortunately for them, everyone else is. They don’t need to make a new product that makes the Treo better. They need to make a product that’s better than the Treo and a the Pocket PC. They need to get the Treo users to upgrade and get Pocket PC users to switch. At this point it will have to compete with the iPhone also.

    One thing that Apple got right with the iPhone is the fact that it runs the same OS as the desktop. Microsoft got this wrong. The Pocket PC OS is different than the desktop OS. If Palm could create a Linux phone, that ran standard desktop Apps, it might save them.

    For a long time, I didn’t believe that the Palm management had the vision to do what it needed to do. By canceling this product they have restored my faith. A little anyway…

    ~Eric * Palm IIIxe -> Palm m505 -> Treo 650

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  • Julie September 5, 2007, 4:50 pm

    I still have faith (or maybe it’s just hope) that Palm will pull itself back up the ladder to where it was a few years ago. I have a lot of fond memories of the way things were with the first Palm Pilot. And no matter what people say (sometimes myself included) about Palm OS devices, they are easier to use than some of the alternatives on the market. I know that they don’t multitask like Windows Mobile devices, but for the most part, their interface is less cumbersome. And for a Mac user like me, they work better for me than WM devices.

    Like Rob, I need a device that is smaller and lighter than my Macbook Pro to carry around with me in my gear bag for those times when I want to capture some thoughts for a blog post or surf a site on a larger screen. I really wish that Apple would come out with the new Newton, but alas, I fear that day will never come.

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  • Eric September 6, 2007, 10:07 am

    I believe the new iPod iTouch is the Newton reincarnated. The Newton is dead, long live the Newton!

    8
  • Julie September 6, 2007, 10:33 am

    Eric,

    Here’s hoping that you’re right. I think (hope) we’ll see both the iPhone and iPod Touch grow feature-wise after Leopard is released.

    9
  • Smitty September 8, 2007, 8:18 pm

    I have a question for all those who thought the Foleo was a great intermediate step between a Palm and a laptop: why have you not supported the Alphasmart Dana? It’s exactly what a few of you stated that you were after (doesn’t take a lot of power, instant on, syncs with Palm and desktop (well, it IS a Palm, but it does sync), rugged, full-size keyboard, long battery life, etc.), but they have had a hard time getting into the general marketplace. I would carry one, but our application (which I support and train) only runs on WIndows and Mac OS, so I have to carry a laptop. I can’t see lugging three devices around! (I did have to do that before the Intel Macs! You should all be happy you weren’t behind our team at the airport, with each of us fishing out two laptops, phones, and such. It looked like a hardware convention!)

    I think the Foleo just adds a hinge (and that other OS) to the Alphasmart. It’s too small a niche in this day and age. And I think Palm also saw Steve Jobs walking down the hall toward them with a hungry look on his face, and knew their lunch money was as goo as in his pocket!

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  • Rob Tillotson September 8, 2007, 9:46 pm

    If you think the Foleo only differs from the Alphasmart by a hinge, I think you need to take a closer look at the Dana’s specs. It has a whopping 560×160 narrow horizontal grayscale display. It comes with a whole 16MB of RAM, less than even the discontinued models of the Treo. And it runs Palm OS 4.1, which in turn means it is using a 68K CPU, probably around 16 MHz, comparable to the Palms of 2001, before the Tungsten or Treo 6xx. This is fine for Alphasmart’s niche, but their niche is very very small even compared to the Foleo — Alphasmart makes dedicated writing tools, and that’s all. The Dana isn’t meant to be useful as a general purpose mobile device, and it isn’t.

    Now, compare that to a Foleo, which is based on a hardware platform that is comparable to today’s mobile devices, not the devices of six years ago, and has a color display with more pixels and a more normal shape. It is capable of running a modern browser engine, and perhaps even Flash — neither of which are even remotely close to the same universe as the ballpark of the Dana. It could run a more powerful email client with better attachment support, and an office document app that could use native documents (I doubt you’ll get current versions of Docs2Go running on a Dana at all). It has not only WiFi (g, not b only like the Dana) but Bluetooth for phone tethering.

    And let’s also not discount the OS either — for years Palm developers have been complaining about how far behind the Palm OS is falling, in terms of developing the kind of apps today’s world calls for, especially when it comes to networking and multitasking. And it’s Palm OS 5 they’re complaining about — the Dana’s OS is an entire hardware and software platform older than that. A device based on Linux (or Symbian, or Windows Mobile) will be much easier to develop for, which is also one of the reasons Palm is working on their new smartphone platform. Not to mention that for people like me, Linux opens up some applications I would otherwise need a laptop for. For example, you could probably install ssh on a Foleo, thus satisfying my “maintain servers from a coffee shop” needs.

    If you need applications that only run on Windows or OSX, you have no choice but to bring a laptop. But I bet there are a lot of people who just use their laptops for email, web, document editing, maybe presentations, and for that stuff you don’t need a power-chewing desktop-class CPU, OS, and hard drive along with a heavy battery to feed it. The problem with the Foleo isn’t what it was, the problem is that Palm tried to position it as somehow connected to the Treo, which doesn’t seem to make too much sense to me.

    And speaking of Apple… I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them come out with a product which is functionally similar to the Foleo. Consider this: they already have OSX ported to mobile-class hardware — the iPhone and iPod Touch. So why not extend that to a “Macbook Lite”, with perhaps a 10-12″ display, thin and light, with maybe 32GB of flash for document storage, and OSX and iWork running out of ROM, and instant tethering with the iPhone. Not only would I buy one, but I’m sure it would be hailed by all as a whole new world-changing paradigm of computing since, after all, it’s by Steve and not Palm :)

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