Palm Should Revive the Foleo as a Netbook


palmfoleo_350Netbooks are hot and are in conversations every day. The smaller form factor and focus on online web work make them easier to produce with cheaper components. Lots of companies are currently working on Google (s goog) Android netbooks and there have been whispers of how great a WebOS-based netbook could be, even though not a single device with that OS is actually shipping yet. This obsession with netbooks and how to make a great one has me thinking that there’s no reason Palm (s palm) couldn’t produce one, and right now.

Just hear me out. A netbook that is designed from the ground up to be a cloud machine could be easily produced using high-end PDA components. The main requirements would be a decent processor, very long battery life and an easy-to-use OS. Enter Palm.

Palm has already produced such a machine, the Foleo. Sure they killed it off before bringing it to market, but the darn thing was finished and working models were produced. The specs show how well the Foleo would work with WebOS with perhaps minor changes:

  • 416MHz Intel / Marvell PXA27x processor
  • Marathon 2700G graphics accelerator with video output
  • 128MB of RAM (for running applications) plus 256MB of non-volatile memory
  • Dual expansion slots (CompactFlash and SD)
  • Dual wireless (Bluetooth and WiFi support)
  • One USB port
  • 1024 by 600 pixel screen

Palm could drop that sweet TI OMAP 3 processor that they’re putting in the Pre, which would be more than enough oomph for a netbook. Maybe Palm would need to beef up the memory a bit, too, but that would be about all they’d need to tweak. They could put WebOS on the Foleo and add integrated 3G and as long as they could price it reasonably I believe they could sell a ton of these. Put some fancy integration with the Pre and I almost guarantee it. So what do you think, should Palm revive the Foleo as a netbook?



I agree. Palm have been well ahead in terms of innovation for years. They just seem to lack the finesse of Apple when it comes to making people realise that they want their products.

They had the same with their Palm PDAs. Imagine if Palm had an app store years ago when they started integrating wireless in their devices.

The Foleo was the first netbook and was given so much grief by the industry that it was doomed to failure before it even began. Some of the other rubbish thats now on the market doesn’t seem to get half as much grief as they did. Its a shame as I think Palm could have really captured this market.

Personally I’d like to see them given a second chance.



I agree that Palm should re-introduce the Foleo as a netbook. There is a trend for netbooks and Palm should be part of it.

Louie Enclona

A very portable wimax-capable Palm Foleo WebOS tablet with 16×10 scm touchscreen I think would be a better form factor than a netbook.


As a seemingly impossible twist, i would love the pre to fit into a mouse pad position, and become a dedicated touchscreen input device for the foleo. As well as being the source of operating system and G3 connection. While im fantasizing, why not make the foleo battery recharge the pre? And heck, throw some solar collectors on the cover while they are at it!!!


I was wanting the Foleo when they first announced it. Even now I’ll put it high on my list. The OS and software can make or break it big time! If they open it up for third party software, even old Palm programs, it could have a chance! JohnP


I was a long time Palm user and very excited about the Foleo when it was first announced. But a lot has changed in the field since then. Instant on was the real attraction, but now anyone can add instant on to an x86 based machine with Presto’s Linux distro. (

If I can have Windows 7 and Instant On…why settle for a smart phone OS?

Now…if Palm were to make Web OS run on x86 processors for an instant on alternative boot-up, THAT would be a winner and I certainly would pay for it as software.

Joe T.

There seem to be two discussions in this thread:

1. James’ idea: recoup some of the Foleo investment by converting it to an instant-on WebOS Netbook with 3G. Ok, maybe, but it’ll compete with Android, Linux, and XP Netbooks. James says it could be “easily produced using high-end PDA components,” but high-end HP PDAs cost over $400. And the Foleo was going to cost $700, I think. Just another Netbook platform, right? With cost/pricing problems.

2. Foleo concept, of the cellphone being the computer, and the Foleo making it a combined netbook. There are 6 billion people on earth and 3 billion cellphones. Many of those 3 billion don’t own a computer (or car or house or …). The Foleo had pricing problems and maybe assumed too much of their partners’ ability to sync their apps. But the cellphone-as-computer concept is still a good one, if we look at a recent Microsoft for a USB docking solution for cellphones:


The Foleo was never intended to be a standalone machine (like my netbook) but rather, simply big screen liaison with the Treo. Its biggest drawback was that it offered less functionality than the Treo in a larger, more awkward size – only emphasizing the lapses in the OS and 3rd party software like Docs2Go and Blazer browser.

To recreate the Foleo as a cloud machine would seem to be as big a folly. Again, it’ll be reliant on another source for its (limited) functionality, while adding the necessity of an often expensive (and sometimes inaccessible)data plan to get to this source.

Now, if Palm was to create an instant-on netbook running an OS that was at least as powerful as current netbooks, with a full range of onboard programs and storage and that supported peripherals like printers – then yes, that would be something to consider. Otherwise, why bother?


i dont think netbook is the way to do something else with webos , i think a small thin and cheap 5-7 inch mid would be match better idea .


I agree! Despite the potential attractiveness of a WebOs netbook, I dont think it can success in the marketplace – that’s what I was trying to demontrate in my comment.

I’m also looking at a 5″ MID or UMPC. I’m giving the Viliv S5 a serious look. At $600 this device would be far more useful to me than a netbook or laptop.


I wouldn’t buy such a device.

I also don’t understand why people would want such a thing.
To keep things simple your ‘netbook’ is just the Palm pre with a larger screen, QWERTY keyboard and no phone features (I don’t think you plan to hold a netbook to your ear, and using a headset also isn’t that ideal)
So what’s the benefit over the Palm Pre, iPhone, Win Mobile Phone, Andriod phone. I don’t see any.
You can also attach a small keyboard to your mobile phone, so all you would want is a larger screen. Well, just wait a year, then the pico projectors are more developed and this issue is solved, too.

A netbook gets bought because it is cheap, small and runs Windows and thus can do everything a normal notebook can do. Your netbook is the same just without Windows, what’s the advantage?

I personally use a tablet PC, which is portable and which I carry everywhere around. Then I also have a normal older Nokia phone. My tablet is small enough, fast enough, portable enough. I wouldn’t want a netbook or MID or UMPC. All I would want is a new mobile phone, the size of the Palm Pre with a great OS, best would be the same OS I’ll use on my tablet PC, Win 7, to keep everything as simple as possible.


Of course, OMAP3 and more RAM are incompatible specs. The OMAP3 can handle only 128MB of RAM and 256MB of on-chip flash. Of course, it could handle more flash through its USB and SD interfaces, but that’s slower and takes more power.


If I was to build a Celio sucessor – I’d take the Pre’s hardware and OS, replace the screen and keyboard by a full keyboard & screen, add a GPU and quadruple the battery. Result: a decent little clamshell (think VAIO P) with WIFI, BT, GPS, EVDO RevA (or 3G?), true instant ON (OFF only turns the screen off) on which you can email, browse, edit office type documents etc. for 20 hours on a single charge…

Moreover, given the nature of WebOs, accessing and presenting the info of one WebOs device onto another is probably very easy. Now this device could operate on its own, or it could be paired with a Pre, in which case both devices could be using the same logical info (recall that Palm knows all about synching) – WOW that would be powerful.

But all this probably has to be priced below the cheapest WinXP netbook of the same size ($400?)… How much for a non-subsidized Pre? Maybe this Celio successor would have a better chance of market success through carriers as a subsidized device…


There are two reasons why this would fail today. One is the non x86 cpu. Today’s netbooks may come preloaded with linux, but users have the option of purchasing or loading windows afterwards and having 100% compatibility with the programs they want to run. The second reason is the amount of ram. Today’s netbooks typically use standard laptop sodimm ram, which is cheap and plentiful; it is not uncommon to see netbooks with 2gb of ram. The foleo has 128mb of ram; that’s less ram than the HTC touch pro. The foleo has a higher resolution screen than the touch pro, and yet the touch pro takes a considerable amount of time to render web pages. This would undoubtedly be even lengthier on a high resolution screen like the Foleo.


A buy out by Microsoft would make things very interesting in the mobile world! They’ve got the cash. Why not?

Paul T

Palm will be lucky to survive 2009! Buy out is what they need. Palm Pre will do little to help a failing company.


I’ve thought the combination of Celio’s software running on the Palm Pre with a compatible netbook hardware from Always Innovating would be awesome. Fantastic combination of form factors, handheld, tablet and keyboard always synced.


I thought there was an article a while back about Palm Pre/WebOS “family” of products? Was that from JKOTR or another site?

Kevin Hughes

I think if the Foleo was reinvented it would have to be without the 3G modem and without the expensive parts and drain on the battery but running the same OS, making a cheap, contract free consumer unit.

I’m thinking Palms version of the iPod touch but on steroids.


I own a smartphone and loved my Redfly when I had it. It was great and I see that it is gaining in popularity. I recently sold it in anticipation of buying the Palm Pre (still waiting…), but think it would be a natural fit. I think the Foleo, even in it’s old form (like the Redfly is currently) is a great idea. Count me in…now just release the darn thing Palm!!


I never understood why people hated on the Palm Foleo so much. I really liked the idea of it, and I didn’t even own a Treo, I just wanted it as a small notebook to be used for browsing. I’m just worried that the Foleo could have been a big hit but Engadget’s open letter to Palm discouraged them from releasing it. The device was really cool and although it was a little ahead of its time and didn’t have as many features as netbooks do today I’m sure Palm would have expanded the feature base and brought it up to par with many of the other netbooks available.

Marcin M.

Of course!! I was shocked after the netbook craze started how good idea Palm has waisted cancelling the Foleo project… Reviving it with new OS might be a great idea. I’m just worried they won’t risk dragging attention away from Pre with any other new releases. But I think they should!! :)

Tim Kilroy

I am an iPhone junkie, but I would love a Foleo type device. There is so often a time when a phone just won’t do for composing an e-mail, or what have you and a keyboard and a screen would be needed. Foleo fit the bill. A Foleo netbook with deep hooks to the phone would be hot. (I would prefer a Foleo kind of device for my iPhone, but beggars can’t be choosers.)


(1) I wanted it.

(2) I didn’t understand the haters.

(3) I eventually got something better, from my perspective, a Raon Digital Everun Note. It boots in 5 seconds in xPUD (yes, I want Linux on my netbook, not Windows).

So if they built it at this late date, I would not come, but only because the market is now flooded. Now it might be a minor success, then it could have been a runaway hit.


Same here. I was really excited about the Foleo, so I was so disappointed when Palm canceled.

I had to settle for the Eee, but the Foleo II will definitely be a welcome news.


I’m with you James. Bring it on. OS matters not a jot for notetaking. Web browsing. Not a fan of cloud computing due inconsistant web access in wonderful New Zealand. Instant on is the holy grail in mobile computing. I’m using my Vaio TX17 on Standby but it’s not up to a day’s use. A new battery would help but I keep looking at an old Windows CE HP Jornada 820 and wishing I had instant on the way that 1998 machine works.


Not that I don’t think this is a good idea, but who would buy one, when you can get a full Windows XP Netbook for $300 and not have to worry that your apps may or may not run on it? Netbook manufacturers found out early on that people want Windows, not Linux. I don’t see the relative value of instant-on outweighing Windows mind (and market) share, particularly when you consider how quickly most current Windows PCs come out of standby.

Let’s face it Foleo was a great idea, poorly implemented. Palm stood by and watched the rest of the industry capitalize on the concept with cheap, light netbooks that do more.


> Netbook manufacturers found out early on that people want
> Windows, not Linux…

No, netbook manufacturers *forced* Windows on users (or were forced to do so by you-know-who). And because of that, they have LOST a lot of sales they could have made. Everybody loses on that deal (well, everybody except for predatory vendors).


I don’t know about this one.

How well is the RedFly selling?

James Kendrick

The main difference is the REDFLY cannot do anything by itself, it requires a WM phone (supported device) to work. This would work by itself just like any netbook and that’s a big difference in my book.

The main premise is that Palm has already made the huge investment to develop the Foleo and this would give them the opportunity to recoup that investment.


Well, I’d think a lot of the Foleo development cost went into the software, so that would still be wasted. And you’re proposing changes to the hardware, so new cost.

That’s not to say it’s not something Palm should consider… once they get the Pre out the door and some money back through the same door. But right now I don’t think they have the bandwidth/money to do it. Sad as it is.


Like the RedFly, the Foleo depended on a phone for it’s connectivity. Without connectivity I could care less about the apps that are built in, especially when they’re half baked, and for an OS that no one is going to support.

I think the RedFly is probably a pretty good indicator of where the Foleo would have been. Palm was wise to not release it, and they’d do well to keep it that way.


ABSOLUTELY! I was so looking forward to such a device, and was ready to spend the money when Palm released the Foleo.

I still miss the instant-on capability offered by my old Windows CE clam shell devices. It’s for taking notes, checking email, etc. The only problem with the CE devices was that they did not grow old gracefully. Too many work arounds to get it to function “just right”. Now? I use an Apple MB Air – great – lightweight, very responsive, etc. But it’s really a glorified note taker 80% of the time.

The closest I can think of is the Celio Redfly, but I’m not really that enamored with smartphones.

Count me for a Foleo+!

Count me in…

heh, me to.

i could have sworn i touched on the subject in some previos palm pre related comment…

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