Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Companion or Stand Alone Product

Ever since Palm announced the Foleo back in May they have been fighting an uphill battle to try and convince people that the Foleo is not a sub-notebook or Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC).

So while I'm waiting for my chance to buy my Foleo, I have to wonder if Palm should just go with the flow as it where and market the Foleo for what is is being perceived as: a light weight Linux notebook.

Palm wouldn't have to take anything away from the Foleo being a great companion product for the company's smartphones. What they would be gaining, after some shoring up in the software department, is a new market of customers who would use the Foleo as a mobile computer.

What do you think? Click the Comments link below and let us know.

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17 Comments:

Blogger Dwight said...

I don't own a Palm phone at this time, but I plan to get one as a "Foleo Companion." I need a new phone anyway, so it might as well be a Palm that has been tested to work with the Foleo.

The Foleo is the main draw here. The phone just lets me use it on the train.

August 28, 2007 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the whole companion concept that got me excited.
I regulary travel intersate and whilst I have a work BB (Pearl) I need to "lug" my work IBM laptop as well to view e-mail attachments and access the network through Citirx.
I see the Foleo as a perfect device if it syncs with my BB to view e-mails on a bigger screen, view & edit attachements, and provide a much more enjoyable web browsing experience without the 3.5kg weight limit.
It would also consign my T5 to my dead palm box (currently home to IIIx, m505 & TT).

August 28, 2007 9:05 PM  
Anonymous xelbravo@bellsouth.net said...

I've anticipated the Foleo as a stand alone device from day one. I often need to capture data sporadically and can't bear the long boot times and clunky interface of any MS based device. I loved the convenience of the Treo 700P, but had a severe falling out with Verizon regarding their business practices. Now I find I can do fine with wifi hotspots between the office and home. A lightweight , instant on device with comfortable keyboard and decent screen , wifi, and a few choice apps, for half a grand sounds perfect to me! xelbravo@bellsouth.net

August 29, 2007 12:51 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

I think they should cater to both crowds. I think I saw an interview with Combee saying that they also envision people buying it just to sit on their family room tables.

I think the key thing here is that the Foleo is ALL of these things, but it is difficult to market it as such. So. they focused first on the business user who needs email.

August 29, 2007 2:29 AM  
Blogger Ebert said...

It could be either a companion or a stand-alone product, but most of our visions are probably that it's all of the above. The Foleo could be very successful because if it can be a well-linked Companion then it replaces the need for a laptop as the "out of the office" computer.

The Foleo works as a companion if it can seamlessly link up to the smartphones in our pocket, essentially using them as file servers. The concept of our phones as the servers makes sense because the Foleo has little to no storage space, but most smartphones can be inexpensively equipped with 2GB of flash memory, or are now even coming with 8GB of internal storage (iPhone, Nokia N95, N81). Most smartphone sync programs allow you to keep current copies of important files on your phone, and having a light, small device with a full keyboard and decent screen to easily access and actually work on these files would unleash the productivity power of the smartphone - which I would argue is constrained only by the slow typing and small screen of our phones. Additionally, as anon. mentioned, the Foleo could elminate the excess need for a laptop AND a smartphone, especially after the news that it will support a version of LogMeIn. With that users have access to ALL of the files and processing power back at the office or home computer.

Of course, for the Foleo to be the ultimate companion that means compatibility with potentially six major handheld OS's: Palm, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, MacOS X mobile, the forthcoming Linux mobile, and Symbian if they want to have any international sales and tap into Nokia. Building the Foleo on an open platform will hopefully shorten the time it takes for all of these to be supported.

But while we're waiting for that to happen, the Foleo can be a great standalone device... and maybe even give us a reason to ditch the clunky smartphones. Throw an SD or CompactFlash card in a Foleo, tether it up to the internet via a plain old flip phone w/Bluetooth, and you have a very reasonably priced UMPC. Sure there are ultralight laptops that performance-wise would blow the Foleo out of the water, but they cost $1,000 to $2,000 more!
The major caveat to the the Foleo's success as a standalone device is that it can sync up to our PCs or Macs at the office/home so that all of our e-mails, contacts and important files are right there with us.

August 29, 2007 4:30 AM  
Blogger gzwoep said...

I'm planning on using my Foleo mainly as a stand-alone device. I do own a Treo 680 however and who knows how the future will seduce me into using the thing.

August 29, 2007 5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I do own a Treo 700P, I, too, am anxiously awaiting the release of the Foleo. Much of the work that I do on my laptop is internet browsing, checking email and preparing word documentation. All of this can be done on the Foleo without having to lug around a much more expensive laptop. Because I anticipate using the Foleo as a stand-alone product, which just happens to have the ability to sync with my Treo, I am all in favor of it being marketed as such.

August 29, 2007 8:30 AM  
Anonymous ampatspell said...

I'm looking forward buying a Foleo to use it as a standalone device for writing (not limited to blogging). For me it seems it's ideal typewriter device - lightweight, good battery life, big screen _and_ the keyboard what actually can be used for typing long texts.

August 29, 2007 8:35 AM  
Blogger Dwight said...

Ebert's comment raises a question for me. Can we connect to the Internet using "a plain old flip phone w/Bluetooth"? Or, do we need a smartphone? I know we need the smartphone to sync e-mail, but that wouldn't be a problem for people who use web based e-mail.

I was sort of planning to get a Gandolf because that seemed to be the minimal phone that would get me on the Internet. Now, I think I want "a plain old flip phone w/Bluetooth". Assuming that it will work with the Foleo. Does anyone known the answer to this?

Thanks,
Dwight

August 29, 2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger Alan Grassia, Staff Writer said...

dwight,

As far as I know, the Foleo will work with the Treo (Palm OS and Windows Mobile) and very possibly with non-Palm Windows Mobile devices as each vendor's implementation of Window Mobile 5.0 is very similar.

Palm has talked about expanding the list of supported smartphones with the Foleo in the future, however, no specific plans were laid out as Palm is gearing up for the initial launch. (Palm was talking about this back in May when they introduced the Foleo.)

As for your average run of the mill feature flip phones...well let's just say that I won't be surprised when people try it out and it doesn't work.

Alan G

August 29, 2007 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I am excited at the thought that Foleo could begin redefining "personal computing" to mean a set of smaller (ideally less expensive) devices that interact with each other; and which don't require Windows. Distributed computing for the individual, so to speak.

I plan to primarily use Foleo for writing and the instant-on is a huge part of the appeal for me.

August 29, 2007 11:27 AM  
Blogger Ebert said...

Hi Dwight and Alan,

The current Palm OS network settings can be easily set up so that I was able to tether various Clies and Tungstens to Cingular and T-Mobile data networks via rather basic Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericson phones. (Bluetooth or even infrared)

The Cingular forums have the set-up instructions for the Treo tethered to a laptop via WAP(MediaNet) or ISP data networks, but simple variations worked for any of the PDA/phone pairings I mentioned. I've also used these same settings for XP and Mac OX laptops tethered via bluetooth or infrared to "basic" phones. A few minutes of research via a Google search can help you troubleshoot any specifics for your model phone/PDA.

I know it's never safe to assume anything, but if the last few versions of the Palm OS could do it, then I'd hope the Foleo should at least have a settings panel capable of plugging in the right configurations.

August 29, 2007 12:37 PM  
Blogger torojet said...

Since I've used PDAnet for years, I already see my notebook as a Palm companion; just a clunky,unreliable, somewhat heavy companion with a patently bloated OS.
The fact that Palm is offering an alternative is proof to me of the beauty of the marketplace. For all the chatter otherwise, the Foleo fills a void.
As a stand alone device with the allure of Palm's simple, stable structure, I am in line to use the Foleo as a notebook replacement.
Specifically, being on the road for 150 nights a year, I look forward to having an instant on device that runs Office documents out of the box, doesnt get smashed on an airline flight by the reclining seat in front of me, that I can take out at a moments notice (like my Treo) and use in the intervals of time we seem to get in the real world. How many of us haven't taken out the notebook when we need it because its too slow to start, and too bulky, and just not worth it in the time we have? The Foleo may change all of this if, as I suspect, they nail the form factor.
Additionally, I take an online course each quarter for my Masters degree. Getting online is essential, but not always a sure thing at the many hotels I am in. PDAnet and the Treo have countless times served me well as an alternative to wasting time getting the hotel network configured.
The Foleo will do everything I need it to, even as a stand alone device, if it works as advertised. My hunch is there will be more and more usefulness as tightly written software, like the VLC Player perhaps, is adapted for the Foleo.
As long as Palm has worked out the data connection to the degree PDAnet has, they have a winner.

August 30, 2007 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My laptop has the power to do lots of things I just don't need it to do. I need to browse the web, check email, draft documents and spreadsheets, and read pdf's. If I could leave my 7 pound (plus adapter) laptop at the office, and carry around what amounts to a UMPC sub-notebook (tailored to my business needs) for a $500 investment (no new license fees!), that's the market meeting my needs exactly. That it integrates with my Treo is icing on the cake.

I think the device is a laptop killer. I was confirmed in that suspicion when I saw that logmein will have a Foleo-specific application that will let me access my office pc (and network) from afar, thus making network resources available on the road for when I need them.

Obviously, execution will be key here. The promise of Foleo is in its simplicity and reliability. If those promises aren't true, I fear those execution failures might doom innovation among products like this one.

August 30, 2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger Mr. White said...

Believe it or not, I have been using TX like a laptop for the last 2 years. Word processing is minimal so I strain my eyes a little on landscape orientation and use infra red keyboard. I swung between T5 for its USB memory feature, and back to TX for wifi.

Currently I use almost all of 2 G SD card in my Tx (mostly on TR3 wikipedia, songs and pics.

I will use it as a stand alone if it supports 4 gigs. Oh, and I will bluetooth my media contents like videos, etc over to the foleo, so thats still stand alone.

September 1, 2007 3:13 AM  
Blogger Alan Grassia, Staff Writer said...

When I was testing the Foleo, I was able to use a 4GB SDHC card between my Treo 700p (w. Maintenance Release 1.10) and a pre-release Foleo. So I'm sure that will work.

Now, as for the ability to Bluetooth files between the Foleo and the Treo, that is only a wish list item for now. Palm may add it, but I have no idea when that might become available.

Alan G

September 1, 2007 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On-the-road e-mail and web browsing are not my first priorities, despite what everyone tries to tell me. I'd like to see good word-processing possibilities and possibilities for synching with my desktop. All this could be easily achieved if the Foleo would, in addition to the Documents-to-go package, have a functionality for accessing the PDA software already installed on my Treo (like EndNote and FileMaker Mobile Companion, Plucker, Adobe-for-Palm); in other words, something like "PdaReach". That would make the Foleo an ideal input/output device for tasks-on-the-go, and ironically my Treo would become a companion for a stand-alone Foleo.

September 4, 2007 3:27 AM  

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