Palm Foleo and The Folly of Vision

When I first read about the Palm Foleo a couple weeks back, I thought it was an interesting idea for a $99 Treo accessory. For $500 — after rebate, no less — it is a non-starter. But I’m not posting about it to join the other 99% of the blogosphere who think Foleo is a stupid idea because I think the vision is sound, the details and current market realities are the problem.

Jeff Hawkins talking about FoleoJust about the only thing in Jeff Hawkins’ introduction at the D conference that made sense is the idea that the mobile phone will evolve to fully functional computers with really small screens and keyboards. For doing basic writing, scheduling and web tasks, they are usable but not enough of a solution to replace the laptop. So what makes Foleo interesting is this notion of extending the mobile phone with a laptop-sized screen and keyboard. The problem is for $500 you could buy a fully functional laptop. But if this were at say $199 or better yet, $99, you would have more folks seriously considering such a device as a laptop replacement for most of what we do on the road.

So while the vision might be right, the implementation using the somewhat outdated Treo as the hub is where the problems really begin. Any then you have other guys announcing stuff like a $199 laptop that really takes the wind out of your sails.

Too bad as I like Palm a lot; unfortunately, it seems, their best years are behind them. We’ll be using something like Foleo in the next couple years, it just won’t be from Palm unless they drop the price considerably in the next year.

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