Palm might be resurrecting its aborted Foleo device to make a play for the hot netbook market.
Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, says Palm intends to produce a $399 netbook that will run the Palm WebOS operating system, which will debut soon on the eagerly awaited Pre smart phone.
I’m one of the few people who thought Palm should have pressed ahead with its original Foleo device. It could have defined the netbook category before Taiwan’s Asus came out with the Eee PC, the first popular netbook, in late 2007.
The netbook category has evolved a lot since then, moving closer to traditional notebook PCs. The original netbooks were Linux based, but Microsoft, sensing a threat to one of its core businesses, quickly made a version of its Windows operating system for netbooks. Now netbooks are basically low-end notebook PCs with smaller screens.
Palm’s resurrected Foleo could redefine the netbook category and bring it back to the original vision of a class of devices between smart phones and notebook PCs.
Netbooks were originally designed as secondary notebook PCs. These ultraportable devices would be small, lightweight and designed for users to whip out in coffee shops to surf the net, blog or manage e-mail.
If Palm does come out with a Foleo product, it should stay true to the ideals of the original. As such, it should have a full-size keyboard for comfortable typing. It should have flash memory for long battery life. It also needs to be able to create and edit Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and read PowerPoint slides and PDFs.
And it should turn on and off instantly, something slow-booting Windows PCs can’t do.
The original Palm Foleo subnotebook, which debuted in May 2007. Palm canceled the product in September 2007 in order to focus on its core smart phone business.