We received word today from Palm President and CEO Ed Colligan via Email that Palm is pulling the plug on the first generation Foleo mobile companion product that was only recently announced. The Foleo mobile companion was the latest brain child of legendary Palm designer, Jeff Hawkins.
The Foleo mobile companion met with very mixed and somewhat negative reaction from the press since its splashy introduction back in May of this year. The Linux based sub-notebook product was intended to be a companion device for smart phone users who needed the ability of a bigger screen to read Email, browse the web and handle documents on the go.
While the Foleo mobile companion did offer many of the features of the common laptop, the concept was intended to be a niche product that would fill the space between the smart phone and the laptop. The problem was that neither consumers nor the press could really latch on to the need for such a device.
CEO Colligan claims that the decision to cancel the Foleo mobile companion is part of a bigger Palm overall strategy to focus on a single consistent user experience around a single development platform. The focus going forward will be to work toward the delivery of the next generation Palm smart phone that will bring this new platform to market. The Foleo mobile companion was based on a secondary platform in a different development environment.
Palm also indicated that the Foleo mobile companion might not be totally dead, as there is talk of a Foleo II device that may be developed at some point in the future that is based on the new Palm platform. Palm still feels that the Foleo can offer market potential, but they are not indicating any development time line for the development of a new product for the mobile companion market space.
As hard as it might be for Palm to cut bait on the Foleo mobile companion, it is likely the right decision at this time. Giving up on this version of the Foleo mobile companion will not come cheap, however, as Palm was almost ready to go into production with the Foleo and has indicated that they will be taking a $10 million dollar charge against their earnings. Still, clearly the possibility of having to support two different OS platforms and the fact that the initial buzz on the Foleo was less than stellar surely factored into this decision.
Our take is that Palm needs to continue to put energy into and focus on the smart phone market. They have made some headway with each generation of the Treo smart phone and some of the prototypes that having been leaking out seem to show real promise. We think that the Foleo just seemed to be a product without a real market and it did not ignite any real support from either potential customers or the developer community.
Sometimes when you try to live on the bleeding edge and introduce new technology, things just do not go as planned; and the Foleo was a device that just didn’t get anyone excited. Let’s face it, while the average sub-notebook still costs more than what a Foleo would have cost, the fact that you could run everything that Windows has to offer just makes the sub-notebook a smarter purchase. And who would want to carry both the Foleo and a sub-notebook?
We don’t know about you, but we are looking to lighten the load that we carry in our laptop bag, not add another device to lug around.