Friday, September 07, 2007

The PalmOS Is Being De-Fronded With Foleo - UPDATED

Palm's Foleo mobile companion in action – Image Credit: Linux Devices

The PalmOS Is Being De-Fronded With Foleo

The PalmOS ship is being jumped sooner than anyone thought.

Ditched is the Palm operating system with the introduction of the latest mobil form factor device from Palm which features an exciting Linux operating system that the company founder proudly touted saying, "Press a button, it's on. Press it again, it's off. There are no other modes."

The initial Foleo model introduced will be designed for use with Palm's PalmOS - and Windows Mobile-based Treo smartphones. The Foleo will connect to the phone via Bluetooth, and sync up email, email attachments, and contacts with the phone.

Jeff Hawkins (the company founder) said, "This is the smallest device ever with a full-size keyboard. It's got WiFi, Bluetooth, five-hour battery life. People are going to write all kinds of things for this. Mobile email is just the entry point, like the organizer was for the Palm Pilot."

Palm has been working on the Foleo since 2005.

Further, Palm has been awarded several patents that may relate to the device, including "Accessory module for handheld devices".

Excerpts from Ziff-Davis’ Linux Devices -

Palm unveils Linux-based "mobile companion"
Linux Devices (Ziff-Davis) - May 30, 2007 [Updated 5:00 PM PDT]

Palm has used Linux to build a "new class" of mobile device. The Foleo aims to expand the email, Internet, and productivity application capabilities of mobile phones such as the Palm Treo, by adding a full-size keyboard and a larger screen.

Palm introduces the Foleo that features the new Linux OS. Palm has been working on the Foleo since 2005. Image Credit: Linux Devices

Very few details about the Foleo are known at this point. Opera, which supplied its Opera 9 browser for the device, has confirmed the Foleo to be based on Linux. For its part, Palm has published a few photos and brief videos of the device, while promising to release more details tomorrow.

In one video, Palm Founder Jeff Hawkins said Palm plans to ship a complete line Foleo devices supporting a wide variety of mobile phones. He predicts that the Foleo will be more successful than Palm's original Palm Pilot, which he designed, and more successful than its current Treo smartphones, which he helped design.

Hawkins emphasized that initial Foleo models will be focused on expanding the email capabilities of Palm's Treo smartphones. A physical button on the device opens an email client that keeps itself synchronized with the email client on the user's smartphone. Similar capabilities for office documents are also planned.
Given its advanced power management, and use of Opera's Opera 9 for Devices browser, it's no surpise that the Foleo is based on an ARM processor. Palm would not say which one, however. One possibility is Intel's Xscale processors, which Palm uses in Treo smartphones. Another is Freescale's ARM11-based i.MX31, which recently gained an Opera 9 port.

The Foleo weighs 2.4 pounds, according to reports, and sports a "full-size" keyboard with an 18mm keypitch, as speculated in ISO standards, Hawkins said. Navigation is done via a TrackPoint nub in the keyboard, while a roller wheel below the keyboard offers fast scrolling.

The Foleo's bright 10.2-inch color screen has a resolution of 1024x600, while the device's video out port runs at 1024x768 (SXGA) resolution, to accommodate standard projectors during PowerPoint presentations.
User storage will be expandable via a CompactFlash slot beneath the battery, as well as via a removable SD card. I/O includes USB, Bluetooth, and Wifi.

Claimed battery life is five hours, "even while using WiFi the entire time," according to
PC Magazine coverage available here.
Marketing VP Paul Cousineau commented, "Some things that are easy to do in Palm OS are hard to do in Linux. Like instant app switching and long battery life, which are inherent in Palm OS."

In addition to the Opera 9 browser, the Foleo's software stack will include DataViz's DocumentsToGo application, aimed at letting users edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.
Concurrent with device availability, Palm plans to release an open SDK (software development kit) aimed at helping build a developer community around Foleo hardware.

Palm expects to ship the first Foleo devices this summer, priced at $500 after a $100 rebate.

Reference Here>>

For the executive on-the-go, this Foleo may be just the handy enterprize mobility device for quick infromation access.

UPDATE - Friday 9-7-2007:

Not so fast. Put the fronds back on the PALM tree!

At the end of the day, Tuesday, the CEO of Palm, in a posting on the company's official weblog, announced that Palm would be terminating the Foleo as a product effective immediately.

Excerpted from C|NET News -

Palm cancels first-generation Foleo
Posted by Tom Krazit - September 4, 2007 2:32 PM PDT

Faced with biting criticism of the Foleo, a Linux-based psuedo-laptop gadget, Palm has decided to cancel the first generation of the device.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan broke the news (ed.) Tuesday after the close of the stock market.

Just last week, a financial analyst predicted that Palm would have to delay the Foleo's launch until September or October because of serious software-related bugs, but Colligan decided to kill the entire project instead.

"In the course of the past several months, it has become clear that the right path for Palm is to offer a single, consistent user experience around this new platform design and a single focus for our platform development efforts. To that end, and after careful deliberation, I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering out next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market," Colligan wrote on Palm's blog. Calls to Palm representatives were not immediately returned.

Palm unveiled the Foleo at the D: All Things Digital conference in May to widespread skepticism, despite the fact that Palm founder Jeff Hawkins considered it "the best idea I've ever had." The Foleo is basically an underpowered laptop that's designed to give Treo users a break from typing e-mails on a small phone keyboard. However, few could figure out why smart phone users--who ostensibly own a laptop already--would want to buy a separate $499 device that could do little more than send e-mails.

Colligan said that Palm is still working on Foleo II in conjunction with Hawkins. But Palm has to focus on updating the Treo and getting the newest version of Palm OS--now based on Linux--to market before tackling a new category like the Foleo. Palm will take a $10 million charge associated with the cancellation of the product, he wrote.
Reference Here>>

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