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Palm Foleo Use Cases that Make Sense
Ed Kohler
Palm announced the future launch of a new computer earlier this week called the Foleo Mobile Companion that's designed to pair with Treo phones for cellular Internet access while providing a large screen and keyboard for a laptop style on the road when you're away from your laptop.

Huh? That was the first impression Ben and I had when watching the announcement. When would someone be away from their laptop, yet carrying something like this around?

Here's the pitch: it turns on and off in an instant, like a Palm device, so you don't waste time waiting for it to boot or come out of hibernate mode. That might be an interesting pitch to Windows uses, but Mac users are already accustomed to opening the lid of their laptops for an instant-on experience.

palm-foleo.jpg

As I thought about this more, I had a harder and harder time understanding when this product would be useful for business people who are already armed with a laptop and smartphone.

However, I did manage to think of plenty of other applications for this. And they all revolve around using this product as a stand-alone device rather than a companion to a Treo:

1. Courtesy Computers: Stick a few of these in your waiting area or boardroom for guests to check their email and surf the web on. They're considerably cheaper than a laptop, less virus prone, and surely use less energy than a full computer. What would be cooler in a doctor's office: a month old issue of InTouch or a computer you can use to surf to TheSuperficial?

2. RV Travelers: Older couples who've sold their home and hit the road aren't using their computers to run spreadsheets and create PowerPoints. It's all about surfing the web for destination information and keeping in touch with people via email. This does both. Perhaps they'd pair it with a Treo for surfing while cruising the Interstate highway system, but even without that they could hop on free WiFi connections at coffee shops and Panera Bread restaurants. It includes USB and SD card ports, so uploading photos to Flickr should be relatively easy.

3. Minivans: Hook up the kids with something to do while you're shuttling them between soccer, lacrosse, rowing, choir practice, and whatever else kids do these days. This would require someone in the car to have a web-connected cellular device. Apparently, the first launch of the Foleo won't support YouTube videos, which could be viewed as a feature by parents driving web surfing kids around.

4. Limos: I have friends who's laptops are so slow to boot, they'd never consider bothering using it during a limo ride. More limos are installing in-vehicle WiFi networks routing cellular Internet connections, making a Foleo a perfect choice for people interested in killing some time by checking headlines on the web.

Amazingly, the product has only been announced for two days, doesn't ship until later this summer, yet Amazon already has four accessories for sale for the Foleo.

Would you buy one? If yes, how do you expect to use it?



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Comments

1. Posted by: JR Tapper on June 1, 2007 1:57 PM:

I am thinking that the Foleo would make sense for a on the road sales rep who needs basic internet access and limited spreadsheet/word processor abilities. In an environment where the reps require a lot of training and hand holding, I am hoping that this device will have the familiar Palm ease of use.

The major risk here is that the web browser on the device may not support the more advanced web-based multimedia functions (i.e. video conferencing). Without strong browser support, it is going to be a non starter.




2. Posted by: Mary on June 3, 2007 7:31 PM:

How about for a travel writer who does NOT want to lug a big, laptop around, worried about recharging batteries all the time, worried about security, overheating, viruses, etc. It seems good for what I do




3. Posted by: Ryan on June 7, 2007 9:41 PM:

This product makes sense for me. It has a web browser and a linux console. I work in marketing so the majority of my time is research with light production done on the server. I've been waiting for something without an HD for a long time (I'm pretty tough on my hardware). It sounds like a good thin client for users that can tap into networked resources.




4. Posted by: Arjun Muralidharan on June 9, 2007 5:05 AM:

I like the idea, and it may come in handy for certain situations. OF course I would cherish much more a mini-Macbook, as the operating system is still way better.




5. Posted by: Tony on June 14, 2007 10:46 PM:

I'm planning on getting one, barring any legitimate complaints. I'm typing this on an HP Jornada 720 HPC, I'd love to move up to something newer with more features, not to mention the fact I program Linux as a hobby. And at $500, it costs1/2 what I paid for my HPC. I will miss touchscreen.




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