While I was using my Pre today I was struck once again with how good webOS is from a user’s standpoint. Then it hit me right between the eyes — wouldn’t webOS be fantastic on a 7-inch slate? It’s time for a Palm Pilot revival.

Palm webOS thumb

I admit I have been neglecting my lonely Palm Pre the past few days. I have no shortage of phones around here and until picking it up earlier today, I haven’t been giving the Pre much thought. While I was using the Pre, my thoughts centered around the trouble that Palm is having due to low sales numbers. I also was struck once again with how good webOS is from a user’s standpoint. The interface is great, and it would be a big loss to see Palm (and webOS) go away. Then it hit me right between the eyes — wouldn’t webOS be fantastic on a 7-inch slate?

While it seems that tablet-mania has us all in its grip, the more I thought of a slate running webOS the more excited I got about it. The graphical touch interface is already outstanding, but imagine it on a 7-inch display. The multitasking of webOS would enter new ground on such a screen. It would not only be a productive environment to use, it would actually be fun. If you ask me, Palm could use a little fun these days.

I am picturing a thin slate with a 7-inch screen — even a tad bigger would be OK. The great PIM apps on webOS would be stellar if optimized for the larger display. Palm wouldn’t have to add functionality, or even change the way they utilized touch, just optimize the display. The webOS browser is already quite good; It would only be better on a larger screen.

I believe Palm could produce this slate, given its history with device design and production. It should follow the Apple model and make sure all existing webOS apps work on the tablet, and provide incentives to developers who optimize existing apps for the bigger screen. Maybe even make a deal with Amazon to get a solid app to work with Amazon MP3. There are many ways for Palm to go with this slate, almost all of them good.

Palm could produce a Wi-Fi model of the slate, but also a Sprint 3G/4G model. This would compete with the iPad, and with the Sprint data network make a bold statement. I can see Palm making a tremendous splash with such a device, no matter what happens with its phone line. Having given this a lot of thought, I can only see an upside for beleaguered Palm with this. Given the tight integration webOS already has with Google services, this tablet would give Android tablets serious competition.

The only question I have about this tablet venture for Palm is what to call the product. There’s the obvious Palm Pad, but I think they need something clever to make a splash. How about the Palm Pilot? Raise the original product name that made the company famous, and get people talking.

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  1. jethro_static Thursday, March 18, 2010

    I thought of this like 3 months ago. Yeah, It will be awesome!

  2. webOS’s flaws would be magnified on a tablet. Just ask Kevin about that missing web browser scroll bar. I’d rather see them resurrect the Foleo with something like Chrome OS and the webOS cloud – it’s still in its infancy and kinda kludgy, but shows potential and nicely aggregates stuff from various companies.

    1. Fixing the flaws would fall under “optimizing for the larger screen”. :)

      Re: the foleo– they can’t sell many phones, much less another device that works with them.

      1. I liked the Foleo as a stand-alone, not as a Redfly. Which is a solution looking for a problem. ;)

      2. The Foleo was more intriguing as a concept for the future than it ever was as a device, in my opinion.

        Someday, when we’ve got Intel Core 2 Duo or better CPUs in our phones with >100GB drives, the Foleo idea is going to be huge. And no, I don’t just mean the idea as stated, an almost laptop that docks with your phone, but your phone being used as the actual CPU and storage and OS for your home computer… a laptop screen and keyboard, that does the same thing… a car radio deck, an office computer, all just dumb terminals that connect to your phone, so you always have the same data, the same apps, the same everything, wherever you use it.

        I maintain that that was the long-term concept Hawkins had in mind, but it wasn’t possible at the time, so they did the best they could with his idea, and that ended up being the Foleo.

        Otherwise, he’d never have hyped it up so much if it wasn’t more than what they came up with.

  3. Before the tablet, they need a killer high-end phone. All touchscreen (apparently it’s what the market will buy), a lot of horsepower with sleek, shine and polish. I love WebOS but I don’t like any of the hardware choices out now.

    Advertise the shit out of it, Droid-style. Convince people this is the phone they want.

    Regulate the App Catalog. Ban hammer on dijit and Brighthouse labs.

    Put it on AT&T or VZW. Leave Sprint alone.

    The OS is awesome, everything else so far has been fail. If they can’t convince us we want WebOS on a phone, how are they going to convince us we want it on a tablet?

  4. Damián Esteves Thursday, March 18, 2010

    I agree with you completely. I’ve been thinking this too for a while. Also, in Palm’s favor, the GUI development for apps across the Pre and a tablet device shouldn’t be too much of a problem since it’s done in HTML/CSS. Developers could just scale the proportions up and it would be rendered just as crisply.

  5. I thought of this a year ago. I love Palm and you’re right it would be great. I consider the device but Palm has got to make more movement to get products on other carriers. I won’t go near it (Palm Pad or Palm Pilot) without all US GSM carriers in the mix as an option.

    I longtime Palm fan but even I just retired my Palm Centro on T-Mobile for a Google Nexus One. James you’re absolutely right so how about a little internet campaign to get Palm moving in that direction and while we’re at it a GSM Pre and Pixi on T-Mobile and AT&T.

  6. I was hoping palm would resurrect the Pilot back when they launched the Pre on sprint. I had one of the last Palm Garnet devices launched. It was the white personal organizer, and there are a lot of applications out there for it. If they could make a new slate and center it around browsing, and other leisure activities, I would seriously consider it over an iPad.

    For now, though, I wont be getting a slate. As I just don’t see how it will fit in my mobile routine, given that as a student I do a lot of writing.

  7. I agree. I have been wanting a Palm tablet for years and now especially with webOS. And, if Palm is smart, they would make it have features that the iPad lacks.

  8. if they can retain the thinness of foleo but as a convertible webOS tablet, that would be rather interesting

  9. GoodThings2Life Thursday, March 18, 2010

    I have a better idea for Palm… sell out to Google and merge WebOS and Android! :)

  10. The OS needs to be finished for the phone before they can afford to get distracted with more Foleo-esque or tablet devices. Though I’d prefer a standalone “Synergy” app to a full fledged webOS tablet. I’m much happier with Windows 7 on my tablet.

    That being said, Outlook is horrible. Thunderbird / Sunbird aren’t much better, despite at least having iCal support.

    I’d love a Palm PIM app (even a browser based one) that I could use on my tablet, and take advantage of all the Synergy features I’m using on my phone.

    They could even connect it to the “Manage my Device” / Palm profile feature, and then they’d get people on the Palm site more as well.

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