Why the Foleo unfolded

Just why did Palm's Floeo die?

What Palm really should have offered was the right kind of carrying case. When Ed Colligan, the firm's CEO, announced the Foleo handheld "companion" a few months ago, he went into great detail about the product's design and software features, but he never addressed the one thing users would have to deal with right off the bat: how you would manage both devices. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. You'd think they could have partnered with Targus or something, rather than scrap the Foleo entirely.

Instead of focusing on why Palm abandoned the Foleo so close to the official launch, and where the company should go from here, I think it might make more sense to explore what the world might have looked like had it seen the light of day. Would the arrival of a notebook-like machine (that wasn't a notebook) have found its way to corporate users? Would it have been powerful enough a combination to displace the BlackBerry or the plethora of Windows Mobile 6 devices hitting the market? Would other device makers followed suit with their own variations on Palm's theme? The answer to all these is probably no, which could teach us something about how executive preferences are evolving.

Device consolidation has been an ongoing theme in the mobile computing space, one OEMs are reluctant to take on for fear of missing out on a niche market. Instead, users have slowly been forcing the issue themselves, by showing distinct patterns in terms of what hardware gets used for what purpose. Handhelds are good for checking up on e-mail, voice mail or anything that can be delivered as a concise alert. Notebooks are great for actually doing work, whether it's substantial word processing or surfing the Internet. While Palm's Foleo may have been misguided, it attempted to fill a genuine need among handheld users who sometimes wished they could do just a little bit more.

Mobility brings the promise of access and availability, but your ability to do something with that access can be limited by the devices you choose. A CFO might be able to keep up with his company's stock price on his or her handheld, but he or she is probably going to use a notebook to dive into detailed business intelligence reports. Marketing executives would no doubt love to come into a meeting, put down their cell phone and beam their PowerPoint presentation onto a boardroom wall, but instead they tend to lug around their notebook and a projector.

IT departments might have been resistant to the Foleo because it would have given them yet another device to manage over corporate networks. For line of business users, it's more a question of practicality. If they used something like the Foleo, they would probably consider it as a full-fledged notebook, albeit one that synched up better with their handheld. Device consolidation may not be about winnowing things down to one choice but continuing to innovate around both. What may consolidate is the kind of activity specific knowledge workers concentrate on. If a manager is overseeing strategy and merely delegating tasks, a handheld will probably fit the bill for much of their day. If they're getting their hands dirty with tactical implementation of strategy, they'll probably be toting a notebook around for some time. The problem may not have been that the Foleo was an in-between product. It's that there are fewer and fewer in-between executives.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Shane Schick

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?