Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Palm Foleo - and why don't like it.

Just a few short minutes ago, Palm's Jeff Hawkins announced the company's new Foleo - a mobile companion, if you will. Granted it's still early, but I just don't get it. In a video on the company's site in which Hawkins describes the vision of the Foleo, he states "It's not just an accessory". Personally, I can't see how it is anything more than just that.

As far as I can tell, the folio is simply a wireless keyboard and monitor for your smart phone (Palm or otherwise). Even if it works with 90% of the PDAs and SmartPhones out there (think iPhone, BlackBerry), I can't see it being successful, and here are the reasons why:

  • It's Not Innovative - 4 years ago, I saw a presentation by microsoft illustrating how a PDA would go from someone's home, to their car, to their office. In the home, the PDA information was broadcast on the screen. In the car, voicemail playback was initiated, and information popped-up on an in-dash display. In the office, the PDA synced up with a Keyboard and a 3-screen wraparound LCD. I can already get bluetooth keyboards for most PDAs - Windows Mobile and Blackberry alike - how long do you think it will be before a group of PDA manufacturers come out with a device the size of a USB dongle that can connect to my PDA and allow me to use any standard Keyboard or Monitor of my choosing?
  • Where does it fit in? - I'm not sure who this device is for. Is it for the corporate user who needs a bigger screen and keyboard, but doesn't want to lug a full laptop? There are so many thin and lights on the market today, that I can't imagine that group being large enough. While many users the world over can get buy with just e-mail attachements and web browsing, I can't see them dumping PCs for what is tantamount to an overpriced display and keyboard.
  • Too easy to copy - Patented or not, within 6 months there will be taiwan knockoffs of this, and they'll work with Blackberries and iPhones.
I wish Palm well, but this doesn't seem like it will ressurect Palm from the dead.