Building on its vision that the future of personal computing is mobile computing, Palm today announced the Palm Foleo, its first smartphone companion product. The Foleo mobile companion has a 10 inch screen and full-size keyboard with which to view and edit email and office documents residing on a smartphone. Edits made on Foleo automatically are reflected on its paired smartphone and vice versa. Foleo and its paired smartphone stay synchronized throughout the day or at the touch of a button. This powerful combination is for productivity-minded business people who want a more complete mobile solution for email, attachments and access to the web. The Foleo also has WiFi for those who don't want to use their phone's wireless data connection with the Foleo. It runs Linux.
Our first impression is that the Foleo is a revival of the old Palm eMate, the Microsoft HPC and the Sharp Zaurus-- with a sync to your Treo twist and a relatively low price.
The Foleo mobile companion turns on and off instantly and features fast navigation, a compact and elegant design, and a battery that lasts up to 5 hours of use. Its applications include email, full-screen web browser, and editors or viewers for common business documents such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. The Foleo stays synchronized via Bluetooth wireless technology and uses the smartphone's radio or the Foleo's built-in Wi-Fi radio for general Internet connectivity.
"Foleo is the most exciting product I have ever worked on," said Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm, Inc. and the visionary behind the Foleo's concept and definition. "Smartphones will be the most prevalent personal computers on the planet, ultimately able to do everything that desktop computers can do. However, there are times when people need a large screen and full-size keyboard. As smartphones get smaller, this need increases. The Foleo completes the picture, creating a mobile-computing system that sets a new standard in simplicity."
oleo mobile companions work with Palm's Treo smartphones (Palm OS and Windows Mobile versions). However, Palm believes that most smartphones based on Windows Mobile should work with little or no modification. Smartphones based on operating systems from Research in Motion, Apple, and Symbian likely can be supported with a modest software effort. The Foleo's synchronization architecture is open, and Palm expects to work with third-party developers to support as many smartphones as possible.
"As we did with the PalmPilot more than a decade ago, and more recently with the Treo smartphone, Palm is driving innovation and capitalizing on emerging opportunities in mobile computing, a market full of potential," said Ed Colligan, president and chief executive officer of Palm, Inc. "The Palm Foleo represents our first product in a new line of solutions that will redefine how people work while away from their desks. It starts today with a focus on wireless email, and we expect the Foleo to grow in features and expand its capabilities as the platform grows."
Skyrocketing use of mobile email creates demand for a new way of mobile computing. By the end of 2007, an estimated 24.2 million wireless email accounts will be in use worldwide, and by 2010 wireless email accounts will soar to 199 million. The rapid growth of smartphone sales, the faster speeds of wireless networks, and the increasing digitization of content make this the right time for the introduction of Palm's first mobile companion product.
Although designed primarily as a companion to a mobile phone, Foleo is a powerful computer on its own. Its Linux-based operating system and built-in Wi-Fi radio make it easy for developers to create new applications that can be installed with a single click in the browser. The Foleo has a USB port, video-out port, headphone jack, and slots for SD and compact flash cards for memory expansion. This combination of capabilities in a low-cost design is new in the industry. Palm has opened its design and is actively supporting third-party software developers.
Primary Capabilities and Attributes of the Foleo Mobile Companion
-- One-button access to full-screen email
-- Instant on, instant off
-- Rapid access to various applications
-- 10-inch screen and full-size keyboard
-- Web search and browsing via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
-- Editors for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus a PDF viewer
-- Compact, stylish design that fits on an airline tray table
-- Lightweight at 2.5 pounds
-- Fast, simple and intuitive navigation
-- 5-hour battery life
-- Linux OS for easy application development
Wireless Email on the Big Screen
Email users have become increasingly dependent on smartphones to remain connected and productive.
Drawing on Palm's world-class usability and responsiveness, the Foleo mobile companion gives Palm OS and Windows Mobile based smartphone customers more power and flexibility while retaining the most-loved features of the Treo smartphone. For example, customers open the Foleo, press a button, and it turns on instantly. There is never a delay or boot-up time. A dedicated button provides access to email. All work is saved, so there is no need to close applications or take actions in order to save files. When the Foleo is turned on again, it resumes where the user left off.
New users follow a simple process to pair a Foleo with their smartphone. From then on, email stays synchronized on both devices.
It is easy to view the web through built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios, using the Opera browser. Using Bluetooth, a Treo smartphone acts as a wireless modem for the Foleo. Alternatively, customers can use the Foleo mobile companion's built-in Wi-Fi for fast web browsing anywhere Wi-Fi is available, including more than 50,000 hot spots open to the public in the United States.
Attachments To Go
The Foleo mobile companion also supports the most popular types of attachments. As on the Treo smartphone, the mobile companion uses a version of Documents To Go customized by DataViz. People can create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint compatible documents. The Foleo also includes a Palm-developed PDF reader.
Mobile professionals will find that just as their smartphones are ideal for use while on the move, the Foleo mobile companion is a perfect fit for use while commuting by mass transit, in meetings or on business trips. The mobile companion's size is ideal for working from an airplane seat, and its instant on/off capability makes it easy to comply with flight restrictions on electronics.
Elegant and Thoughtful Design
The Foleo mobile companion's hardware design features elegantly clean lines and forgoes excessive latches and connectors. An innovative scroll wheel, clever forward and back buttons, and a convenient track point enable easy navigation without requiring the user's hands leave the full-size keyboard.
By building the Foleo on an open Linux-based software platform, Palm hopes to replicate earlier success with developers by drawing a large community to create new applications that will extend the mobile companion's capabilities. Palm already has partnered with DataViz and Opera Software, demonstrating the ease with which exciting technology and applications can be ported to the Foleo mobile companion. Palm also will produce tools to allow smartphone manufacturers to make devices compatible with the Foleo mobile companion.