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5/30/2007
02:24 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Palm Adds The Folly, Er, The Foleo To Its Portfolio

For once, the rumor sites had it completely right. If you heard a gunshot around 11:30 AM Pacific Time this morning over in Carlsbad, Calif., that was Palm shooting itself in the foot. Rather than spend its time and money developing the next kick-butt smartphone for the enterprise, Palm thought about the future and decided to give us a laptop that isn't even a laptop.

For once, the rumor sites had it completely right. If you heard a gunshot around 11:30 AM Pacific Time this morning over in Carlsbad, Calif., that was Palm shooting itself in the foot. Rather than spend its time and money developing the next kick-butt smartphone for the enterprise, Palm thought about the future and decided to give us a laptop that isn't even a laptop. Meet Palm's Foleo, a $500 glorified accessory.First, let me say I am sick of being a skeptic. I hate being so negative. I guess I just have high hopes for high technology, and end up completely disappointed all the time. That aside, I really have to question what Palm is up to. Today at the D: All Things Digital Conference, Palm unveiled a companion product for its Treo smartphones. The Foleo looks like a laptop (not like a UMPC, per my earlier post). It features a 10-inch screen, 5 hours of battery life, a Linux operating system and instant-on. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for basic Internet connectivity. According to the press materials, the Foleo has on-board editors for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, and will sync seamlessly with Palm- and Windows-based Treos. Other smartphones, such as those from RIM or even other Windows Mobile-based devices, will also work with some software tweaks. It weights in at 2.5 pounds.

This is what you get for $500. So, the Foleo + Treo = $900. You know. As much as a real laptop costs.

I get that Palm is thinking the ultimate in mobility here. But there are laptops on the market (granted, expensive ones) that weigh in the neighborhood of 2.5 pounds. The funny thing is, they typically offer 12-inch screens and full Windows operating systems. Not just browsing and email. Browsing and email are features available on the Treo or any QWERTY smartphone. Though the screens may be smaller, Bluetooth or Infrared keyboards are cheap add-ons for any smartphone to make using them and editing longer documents easy. And they'll do it for a lot less than $500.

I dunno. I am at a loss for words here. I know Palm can do better. I hope Palm's collective foot heals quickly and it can get back in the race. They'll need two strong legs to continue to compete with companies like RIM, Nokia, and even Motorola, which all seem to be sprinting for the finish line lately.

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