What it was: A $500 subnotebook-like device that could connect to a PalmOS phone, letting users run the phone’s e-mail and other apps on a larger screen with a bigger keyboard.
Announced: May 30th, 2007.
What they said when it was new: “I think it’s the best idea I’ve ever had.”—Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm and creator of the PalmPilot, in an interview with CNet’s Ina Fried.
Died: September 4th, 2007, when Palm announced it wouldn’t ship it in its current form.
What they said when they killed it: “Our own evaluation and early market feedback were telling us that we still have a number of improvements to make Foleo a world-class product, and we can not afford to make those improvements on a platform that is not central to our core focus.”—Ed Colligan, CEO of Palm
Why it really failed: Palm was plenty busy trying to finish an announced operating system that turned out to be WebOS, the software that HP stabbed on Thursday. But the nearly universal abysmal reception that Foleo got from the media couldn’t have helped. (I was one of the few who wasn’t 100% positive it was a turkey.)
Was it a tragedy it bit the big one? No. Like RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, it would have been too dependent on a phone to be useful enough. But the Foleo did incorporate ideas that turned out to be of interest—it was a netbook-like device before there were such things as netbooks. Jeff Hawkins is such a visionary guy that even his bad ideas aren’t completely boring.
The aftermath: In his blog post announcing Foleo’s cancellation, Palm CEO Ed Colligan said that the company would eventually do a “Foleo II” based on “our new platform.” That would be WebOS. Can we stop anticipating it with bated breath now?