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Foleo Q and A

Wed Jun 6, 2007 - 11:24 AM EDT - By Dieter Bohn


We asked TreoCentral forum members to submit questions about the Foleo for our interview with Palm SVP of Marketing, Brodie Keast. We did manage to get some of those questions into that interview (reposted, along with a full transcript, on the last page of this story), but sadly not all of them.

Nevertheless, the questions were great and so I'll do my best to answer them based on what little time I had with the Foleo. The fun, though, is more in reading the questions right now - since we actually know so little about the Foleo. So let's give it a shot!
slbailey1 asks
Why not include a harddrive? What other ebook format it will support other then PDF? Will it support music files (WMA, MP3)?

Surely the main concern here was battery life, although I suspect that size and reliability played a role as well. The main thing, I think is that adding a hard drive would prevent Palm from positioning this as the "mobile compaion" they've touted.

halabar asks
Show him the poll results....

Heh. 70 percent against and 30 percent for. Well, I suppose that might just be enough for Palm to work with.

Aussie Joe asks
Why does it only have a 128mb hard drive?

Well, it's RAM, not a Hard Drive, and it's 256mb with 128 or so available to the user. Anyway, it just *has* to be a cost thing, in my opinion. It does help that they have the internal CF card slot -- I initially thought that was a bad idea. But given that CF is now relatively cheap (and there are those CF hard drives out there), I think Palm was right to put that slot in there. I suspect they'll offer a built-to-order option with CF RAM in the future.

CountBuggula asks
Does this support audio at all? What kind of phono jack if so? Speakers? Battery life while listening to music?Any video codecs supported to watch videos off an SD card (since there's no DVD drive like any other similar-sized Notebook would have)?
mogulman asks
Can I watch DVDs on it? When I travel on a plane a lot, I watch DVDs. If it can't play DVDs, why wouldn't I want a Laptop instead? OH.. and... Any real new products coming out soon? This looks like my old Sharp Zaurus

It does have a headphone jack there, but Palm was mum as to what one might do with it. As for the speakers, I suspect there might be a mono speaker somehwere in there, but don't plan on using it for music. As long as you're not planning, don't plan on a music or a video app at launch at all. I bet you could plan for it fairly soon, though, as the FoleoOS (or whatever it's going to be called) looks to be fairly easy to develop for.

string3599 asks
Besides size, what is the advantage of carrying this device rather than a laptop?

As Keast said in his answer - it has to be instant on and off and easy sync with your Treo. I'd add light and longer battery life.

GreenHex asks
I'd like to ask what kind of a development platform (SDK and such) be available for the Foleo? When will it be available?

Palm wasn't discussing this issue except to say it would be available at launch. Sooner is better, IMO.

rezdog asks
Why would I buy this when I can get a laptop with similar dimensions, similar power specifications, and yet full featured?Since the foleo is bluetooth, how does it deal with smartphones that have sub par bluetooth implementations (Treo 700p, etc.)?
D-Caf asks
Why is it a step back in technology and heavier than a 3 year old laptop like: Sharp MM20 laptop. It is almost 3 years old. It weighs 2lbs with a 3-4 hour battery. It weighs 2.5 pounds with a 8-9 hour battery. It has a 10.4" LCD that displays millions of colors. It has WiFi and a pcmica slot. It can handle DivX video and FlashPlayer9. It has a 20GB hard drive. I run Linux on it, but it came stock with WindowsXP. It cost $1500 when it was new, last time you could by it new it cost $599 (about 1 year ago).

I've yet to find the mm20 available anywhere for less than $1000, but I haven't looked very hard. The point is well taken, though, that if you're going to do a feature rundown with a sub-laptop, the Foleo will lose. Palm isn't worried - they're more focused on software and usability than on feature lists.

The laptop thing is going to be a theme, I see. ;) I can't give a great answer to it. As for the bluetooth issue, Palm couldn't say. I strongly suspect that it will work fine with anything Bluetooth 1.2, but don't anticipate that Treos will be upgraded significantly in the bluetooth firmware department.

enynite asks
Does the Foleo just use the Treo's Bluetooth DUN? or will we have to get Sprint's PAM plan to tether for internet connectivity?

Sadly, I wasn't able to get a clear answer on this issue. Requiring a "Phone As Modem" plan would be a big problem for the Foleo, though.

letsgoflyers81 asks
Why not create a device with a foldable keyboard (similar to ones already available) with a flexible LCD screen to have a truly portable keyboard/big screen companion?

I have to assume that it was cost. As you may have noticed from our speculation article, I really believed that we'd see a folding screen and keyboard. Sigh, I guess the technology just isn't there yet -- or isn't far enough along for Palm to trust it.

twitch3 asks
Where's the 700P MR?

Sprint's arrived yesterday. Verizon: don't hold your breath, it'll be awhile in my opinion.

Dim-Ize asks
It seems that most companies (large and small) issue laptops through an official procurement / deployment process. IT and purchasing are both involved in these decisions. This allows standards for software, custom apps. and IT support costs to be contained.
Yet, mobile phones are often left to the individuals to purchase - with reimbursement options for monthly usage. Sometimes companies offer a few "approved" phones if integrating into corporate mail systems.
I don't understand where this product fits. I work for a fortune 50 company and this product wouldn't be supported as is. I cannot choose my laptop. It is given to me and remains company property.
Yet my phone - is up to me to purchase and the monthly usage fee is reimbursed.
The current Treo community was largely hoping for a next generation handheld which incorporates smaller form factor, 3G data, and a concurrent voice / Data option. Other features reqeusted included BT, GPS, etc. Who is your target audience? I honestly cannot picture the market acceptance of this device.
VetPsychWars asks
Who is the intended buyer for this device? Business? Consumer? Mix?

Business. Executive. Business Executive. Individuals, not IT departments. At least, that's the start. Palm clearly has their eyes on a much bigger market, but the idea seems to be to build up some street cred (not to mention capital) by offering it as a simiple solution to business executives.

sundstrom asks
where is the real jeff hawkins?

Probably blogging as Fake Steve. ;) Seriously, though, it was great to talk to Hawkins. If the earlier article didn't make it clear, Hawkins truly believes in the Foleo.

CountBuggula asks
Is this some sort of elaborate prank? You're getting the community all worked up about this before you release the "real" announcement just so you get some free publicity?

I suspect not. ;) ...then again, see the next answer.

dstrauss asks
Why? :cry:

Honestly? They need to have ways to sell to other smartphone buyers (much in the same way Apple's iPod was made available to Windows users). They think that there's a real future for this kind of device. They (I believe) have a new Treo in the works that's significantly closer to the "computer in your pocket" idea that would actually allow you to use the Foleo as a laptop replacement.

skfny asks
Can we expect to see any of the Foleo's technology (read: the Linux OS) in a Treo this year? If not, when?
Overthrow asks
are the additions to linux on the Foleo GPL or Proprietary? What's the plan for contributing code back to the community if GPL? Why is it so much more expensive than the OLPC's XO or the Intel Classmate?

Palm definitely won't comment on Linux. I wish I had gotten the chance to ask about the GPL - I can't really get a read on whether Palm will be giving back or not. My hunch is that they might not, but on the other hand Palm does have a history of being pretty good with developers. So I just don't know.

I had originally been very hopeful that we'd see the Linux-based PalmOS in a Treo this year. Now I'm less hopeful.

PalmFive asks
I don't get this. Today, I can cable my laptop to my 755 for Internet access. So let's say I wanted to do the same thing with my 755 and this new Foleo. How would I do that? So why would I carry a Foleo around instead of my laptop? I guess I'd have to xfer all my important docs to my 755, so I can access them on the Foleo? Why would I bother? What am I missing here?

The internet thing seems to be pretty automatic -- all the configuration should be handled without any work from you. As for the rest, well, I think Palm better do some sort of "It's not a laptop" or "Foleo vs. Laptop" ad or information page right quick.

LupeValenz asks
Why did you guys stop innovating? Did you figure that when Sony clies left you could just sit back and do nothing?!

You know, I miss the Clies too. As for the innovation question, that's definitely not something I can answer. ;)

samkim asks the following
1. Can it run off-the-shelf Linux apps?

Don't know - but I'll speculate that two things will happen: 1) the answer is no, it can't, because it uses a specialized GUI that doesn't allow for windows, but porting apps will be fairly easy or 2) a 3rd party developer will create a hack-app that will run off-the-shelf Linux apps despite the above limitation.

2. Can it run PalmOS apps?

Don't know, but it doesn't look like it. I doubt it.

3. Does it have the same Linux that will eventually be in future Treos?

Again, they would never say, but I think that the answer is "it will be very close, just with different GUI metaphors."

4. What happened to the critical importance of pocketability and one-handed operation?

Apparently that only goes so far. Sometimes, as Palm has repeated often, you want a "big screen and a big keyboard."

5. Why Docs-to-Go instead of OpenOffice?

They wouldn't say, but I have a couple of thoughts. 1) It's possible that it wasn't all that much work to port DocsToGo to the new OS, which is good news for PalmOS developers. 2) OpenOffice was just too bulky and also Palm feels more comfortable working with a friendly 3rd party developer than they do wading into having to suppor their own version of OpenOffice.

6. Why Opera instead of Firefox?

Ditto the last answer? It is a little disconcerting, though, that Palm seems to be shying away from free and open source products... One thing to note is that Palm cares a LOT about user experience - it's likely that Opera could get them to where they wanted to be more quickly than adapting Firefox on their own.

7. Why Linux instead of Windows?

Linux is free, Windows is not. ;) Linux is also lighter. I think Palm made the right choice here.

8. Is there a possibility for a Windows version?

I hope not. ;) Partially this goes to the fact that the Foleo will lose in feature competitions every time with a laptop. If Palm put Windows on the Foleo, it would be a debacle.

9. How many models of Foleo to be released in the next year?

Palm wouldn't say. I have no idea myself.

10. What are some possible variations or future features?

Palm wouldn't say. I have no idea myself.

11. Have the specs for the Foleo been finalized?


12. Can you make Skype calls on this?


13. Can you connect to a PC network and access files?

At launch - doubtful. But it will be trivial for a 3rd party developer to build a network browser of some sort.

14. Have they talked with many customers about this yet, and do they have any sales lined up?

Wish I'd had a chance to ask these questions. All we know is Hawkins' anecdote that a lot of executives have said they want one.

15. What are projected sales of the Foleo for the next year?

Palm wouldn't say.

16. Is it compatible with Chatter Email on the Treo?

Initially, no. Just VersaMail and Outlook Mobile. BUT: with Chatter now part of Palm, I'd be shocked if this wasn't in the pipeline.

17. When will Chatter make its way into Palm devices?

Lord, let's hope so!

Unrelated to Foleo: 18. Is there a new Palm Desktop on the way? 19. Will we see a Linux Treo before the end of this year? 20. Will we see GPS in any Palm devices in the next year?

No idea, and Palm can't comment.

Overthrow asks
Ed Colligan's quote haunts me now: "pc guys are not going to just figure this out". are mobile guys going to just figure this out?
palm sells a bluetooth keyboard already. why not a bluetooth display?
instead of making it a companion, why not make it a dock instead?

Are mobile guys going to figure this out? Well I guess Palm believes they have figured it out. So there's that. As far as bluetooth display - I personally don't think the technology is there yet, or at least, I think that Palm thinks that the technology isn't there yet. As for the dock - I hope they didn't integrate anything like that because they're planning on switching the Treo to miniUSB. The main reason, though, is that they're hoping that this will gain popularity outside strictly Treo users.

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