35 Comments

Summary:

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

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  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.

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    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.

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

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      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.

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  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?

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  4. 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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

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  9. GoodThings2Life Thursday, March 18, 2010

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

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  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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  11. Like everyon else apparently, I thought of this three years ago :)

    No, seriously, you have great suggestion here, JK. Just not sure if Palm has the (marketing/engineering) resources to pull this off a the moment. From the outside, it may seem like a job for a handful of people, but that’s probably too simplistic.

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  12. WebOS in the iPad form factor but with a dock for horizontal use. External wireless keyboard with a trackpad to mimic touch on the screen itself. Hmmm think you have a winner there Mr. K

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  13. They bet the company on the Pre and Pixi. Barring any sudden clever marketing strategy that starts moving units it will soon be time to whistle up the dog and climb back on the fire engine for the ride back to the fire station. Bringing out a tablet at this point would simply burn up what little cash they have left and leave nothing to market it with.

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  14. Paul Calento Friday, March 19, 2010

    Agree. Building out a market is tough and Palm would be wise to fast follow the iPad if it, indeed, takes off. Plus, building a new operating system for two devices is expensive and risky. This would be a payoff on the investment.

    But … No Apple Stores. No Web-centric sales approach (unlike Apple). Limited carrier support (incentives). Late to the game SDK and lack of apps.

    What Palm needs to do is build grass roots support (probably there evidenced by many of the comments) and get people talking. The Pre (and I own one) didn’t do it, as it lacked the high-end feel and visual wow factor of the iPhone.

    Here’s one way to do it. According to a Forrester study referenced in a recent Sybase piece (http://bit.ly/aKSJOn), many organizations already support multiple devices and operating systems … and roughly half of those surveyed already support “personal” devices. That’s how iPhones popped up in corporate environments. Once they start getting used, perhaps volume buyers will take notice AND consumers will buy the device. But without an Apple store, Palm has to rely on carriers and retailers and that’s easier said than done.

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  15. Constable Odo Friday, March 19, 2010

    Don’t joke around. Palm can barely afford Pixi production so it would be nearly impossible for Palm to come out with a tablet. That company is already burning through cash at a furious rate, so they’d be better off trying to sell all those Pres sitting on the shelves before building any more products. Yeah, like they’d be able to sell a tablet any more than they could sell any of their other products. Face reality, Palm is in deep financial trouble.

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  16. This idea is spot on. WebOS in a slate would solve BOTH competitors problems inheirent within their devices of this class: iPad has iPhone OS’s simplicity and glamour, but also its lack of multitasking, etc., and Android tablets have the platform’s tremendous power, but, unfortunately, also its lack of simplicity, aesthetics, and control over its implementation. WebOS, granted excellent hardware, would fill in all the gaps. Why focus on phones only? A return to “roots” can only help. James is very right. Palm Pilot is very familiar, and therefor seen as safe in public eyes. Palm pre is not familiar, let alone easy to promounce…. correctly ;)

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  17. Oliver Barrett IV Friday, March 19, 2010

    From what I am reading Palm is all but done. You can stick a fork in them. Palm don’t hunt no more. I have been following the computer world since the sixties and one thing that is often repeated is that the best technology loses in many cases. Also much thievery since the birth of the computer when IBM stole the “computer” from Univac and paid them millions under the table so that they could continue selling their stolen machines. Don’t even get me started on Microsoft, Intel and Cisco – The Three Amigos in Computer Crime that basically together picked up the reigns from the old IBM. Yeah, the tech industry is about anything but the best technology that is for sure. The Mobile tech industry is just more of the same. Palm is exhibit A.

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  18. If Palm gets bought out by someone then maybe this will happen. But who would buy Palm and save their webOS?

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  19. Acck! And here we are, nearly two weeks before April 1st…

    Really? You really want Palm to split their attention to build another device? Their history has shown that not working that well for them (they’ll only want to then sell off the OS)- while an awkwardly-sized Pilot is really not as appealing as one might think.

    They almost had it right with the TX – but then, they got distracted by becoming a builder of smartphones…

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  20. If Palm does this, I may have to buy one purely out of spite.
    Silly Apple, when will you ilearn?

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  21. Sadly it probably wouldn’t be named “Palm Pilot.” Palm dropped that name because of a trademark dispute back in ’98.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_%28PDA%29

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  22. James, I think you have a very good idea. The issue is who is paying for the cost of making it. Palm do not have money to support R&D, manufacturing and sales. I want Sony to buy Palm. Think about all those 3D games developed for iPad are available for this future tablet built by Sony/Palm.

    Sony needs to be in the mobile business to stay relevant. Making TVs and PS3 is not going to help them in future.

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  23. After last year’s CES and before the Pre came out, an interviewer asked if Palm was betting everything on this phone, and they said no, they were betting everything on the OS.

    I thought we’d see a slate and multiple companies using the OS. Remember that PalmOS was used by Handspring and Sony before one was bought by Palm and other dropped the whole line of PIMs. I thought they were saying a variety of devices and form factors were planned. And it’s one of the best integrations with cloud computing around.

    I thought we’d see a slate before a Pixi.

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  24. Charles Knight Sunday, March 21, 2010

    This would be a suicide run – Palm would be competing against Apple and other giants in a new marketplace. They are failing in their core marketplace, that’s not the time to spilt their attention and their tiny pot of cash.

    The company would run out of cash in three months and be bust.

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    1. But if Sony built it around WebOS, it would be killer.

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  25. Oh man you guys are reading the same sheet of paper I am! I went to Palms forum and registered there just to leave my thoughts in the hardware section. Maybe, if you haven’t already, you all should head over there and let them hear (read) it. I believe WebOS would be great on a slate. Just polish it for the new screen size, add in a fast processor (1 GHZ SnapDragon or Nvidia Tegra Chipset), good amounts of RAM, a removable micro SD/SDHC Card (32 GB now available for sale by the way), WIFI, optional Wireless Broad Band, webcam, good marketing/timing (seemed to be a problem) and call it a day.

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    1. But, after reading all the previous posts I guess the issue would be the money. Those are some decent specs I posted huh? Wishful thinking for sure!

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  26. HP Slate + WebOS = iPad killer

    There are a number of companies, going up against Apple, that a Palm acquisition makes sense for. HP is probably the most obvious. Their slate hardware plus having in house WebOS software would give them a very viable competing product. Palm already has (albeit a small) fan base, but with the kind of marketing and engineering backup HP could give it, I think developers would get interested. (I would). The problem with this one is whether or not HP wants to pick a fight with one of their established billion dollar partnerships (microsoft). It may not make financial sense.

    I always thought Cisco ought to consider acquiring Palm as well as part of their web collaboration strategy for enterprises. But I see them passing on this. Its a little far fetched from its core business and would really require a leap of faith for Chambers. I think if Llyod (Chamber’s #2) was in place, he’d make the move to establish direction for the company. That being said, the slate makes for a great distraction for HP as Cisco goes after its server business. What would be great is if Cisco acquired Palm and then licensed WebOS to HP for its slate…

    Sony + WebOS would be pretty sweet too. Before Apple got that british designer guy, Sony was the industrial design electronics whiz. I have no doubt that they still have that capability… Somewhere. My Sony TV is EXCELLENT.

    I read somewhere that the approx $300M-$500M price for Palm is well worth it considering the patents they hold. It should be interesting to see what happens

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  27. I have a Palm tablet. They called it the TX (my first was a Palm Pilot 5000). I love it!! I’d love, even more, to have a larger format version. It has Bluetooth & Wi-Fi. I was very sorry to see them stop production. I hope that they get their phones out of their ears and get back to portable computing devices.

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  28. Hein Willems Monday, April 19, 2010

    I would buy one immediatly! Unfortunaly I live in the Netherlands, so it would take at least 5 to 10 years before Palm would introduce this model in Europe.

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  29. I think your wish just got granted.

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