The World Wide Web does not run out of Palm rumors these days. Soon after posting about the Palm Eos, aka Mini Pre, I stumbled upon a report on the possible revival of the Palm Foleo.
Announced in May 2007, the Palm Foleo preceded today’s popular netbooks. However, Palm marketed it not as a stand-alone device but primarily as a companion to the Treo product line.
The Foleo was a dream device for people who live on the Web like me: a lightweight laptop with Wi-Fi connectivity that turns on and off almost instantly, it had Web browsing and email capability and could synchronize data with mobile phone.
In introducing the Foleo, Palm noted that “Although designed primarily as a companion to a mobile phone, Foleo is a powerful computer on its own.” It went on to enumerate the product’s features: Linux-based operating system, built-in Wi-Fi, USB port, video-out port, headphone jack, and memory expansion slots.
After the Foleo was announced, I couldn’t help raving about it everyday. How my girlfriend wished that the product would launch, so I’d finally stop talking about it.
So, imagine my shock when, a few months later, Palm CEO Ed Colligan announced that he had decided to cancel the Foleo. Colligan explained that he did this so Palm could focus on its “next generation platform” — later revealed as the WebOS — and its first phone — which we now know as the Palm Pre.
With the Foleo gone, I settled for a second-hand Asus Eee.
While I felt that it was a good move for Palm to concentrate on its core product, I also wondered if it was entirely right to stop the Foleo. Palm recognized a niche consumer demand for a product now called netbook. Colligan himself mentioned it when he announced the Foleo’s cancellation: “Jeff Hawkins and I still believe that the market category defined by Foleo has enormous potential.”
However, Palm allowed others to deliver this need. Palm started it, but it was Asus, HP, and the rest who cashed in on it.
The new rumor of Foleo’s resurrection reportedly stems from a note to client by Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research. Baron’s Online reported that Chowdhry said Palm intends to produce a $399 netbook that will run the Palm Web OS and will have 8 to 10 hours of battery life.
The blog also noted that another blog, jkOnTheRun, had earlier suggested that Palm revive the Foleo as a netbook.
I’m sure Palm users are not surprised by this rumor because when Colligan disappointed Foleo fans, he also gave them a bit of hope:
“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.”
Now that Palm has almost delivered the WebOS and the Palm Pre, and is reportedly already working on Pre’s little brother, is it also time for the Foleo II?