Brighthand – Foleo First Thoughts

Brighthand’s Editor-in-Chief, Ed Hardy, has posted this first impressions of the upcoming Palm Foleo Mobile Companion on Brighthand.com. Ed writes:

“Late this spring, Palm, Inc. took the wraps off the Foleo, the first device in its new third product category. When it debuts in the next few months, this won’t be a handheld or smartphone, instead it will something Palm is calling a mobile companion.
Palm Foleo

I recently spent some time with a prototype unit, and I’d like to share my first impressions.

Hardware

One of the most important features of the Foleo is obvious at first glance: it’s really quite small. For something shaped like a laptop, I mean. Naturally I didn’t get a chance to carry one around for a few days to get a real idea of how convenient it’s going to be, but it’s certainly going to be easier than lugging around my full-size laptop.”

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Thinking Foleo – Software Is Key

Over the past few weeks Palm has been spoon-feeding us little bit sized morsels of information about some of the details regarding the Palm Foleo. Many people see that Foleo as simply as yet another technology company trying to release yet another sub-notebook computer.

I believe that the Foleo can be more than that. The Foleo is a companion product to a smartphone. As far as we know, for now at least, the Foleo should work with all of the current Treo smartphones. Palm has indicated that going forward the Foleo will work with other boardband capable phones. The Foleo is, in essence, a full size keyboard and 10-inch display for smartphones. You use it for those times when you can’t or won’t use the features of your smartphone. Probably the best example we have so far of when you would use the Foleo rather than say the MacBook on which I’m writing this is for composing long email messages.

The most interesting part of the Foleo, for me and I’m guessing you also, is what else the Foleo will be able to do. Jeff Hawkins, creator of the Palm Pilot, the Treo, and now the Foleo, has stated that this is the first device in a new category of devices. We’ve heard that same kind of talk before about Palm’s LifeDrive Mobile Manager. The Mobile Manager was a great device concept with a number of bad design flaws. The Foleo, I believe, will be different.

Much like the original Pilot, the Foleo is free from wireless carrier restrictions. Palm will be free to design the Foleo platform as they want to without having to give concessions to the carriers. By being in the full control of the Foleo hardware and software Palm will be free to deliver innovative solutions to solve problems that their customers have. The Foleo will be the device at the cross roads of the open Linux operating system, the ingenuity of the original Pilot and flexible feature set.

When the Foleo ships later this year, it will ship with the software essentials to give business professionals the same flexibility they rely on their smartphones for in a larger packages that is continuously synchronized with the data on the phone.

Palm has included a number of useful software features into the Foleo right out of the box. First, and most important, is a data synchronization engine. The Foleo will keep your contacts and email synchronized at all times. Also built in to the Foleo will be the DataViz Documents To Go office suite that has shipped with Palm OS devices for years. The Documents To Go office suite will allow mobile professionals to use access files that are attached to email messages. Web browsing on a smartphone can often be an aggravating experience and so Palm has included the Opera web browser to allow Foleo users a better web experience on a larger screen.

In today’s mobile devices, office productivity software is all expected. To round out the features that are not included in the Foleo’s box will be a virtual private network (VPN) client from Bluefire; the mDayscape full personal information manager (PIM) suite from MotionApps; Solitaire and Sudoku games from Astraware; and the Access ‘n Share remote PC data access client software from Avvenu.

The addition of these third-party applications will mean that on launch day, the Foleo will be even more useful than we where first told during the product announcement presentation. However there is one more software package that has been only talked about in brief passing conversations: the Foleo software development kit (SDK).

The SDK is the software the Palm has promised to make available when the Foleo ships. SDKs are used to write software for the Foleo by application developers. Once the Foleo SDK has been released anyone who wants to write applications for the Foleo will be able to do so. OK, you will likely need to know now to program in the C or C++ languages first, but after that, you could use the SDK to write software for the Foleo.

Palm understands that fostering third-party application development is essential for the continued longevity of the Foleo platform. Third-party applications will be just as critical to the Foleo as they where to the Pilot and Treo product families. Despite being a first generation device, the Foleo has a feature rich hardware platform on which to develop applications including multiple storage options (Compact Flash and Secure Digital cards), video and audio out capabilities, and the ability to instantly turn the device on and off. And because the Foleo is running a version of the Linux operating system it should be possible for Linux application developers to jump on the Foleo bandwagon.

The hardest thing for me to do now is sit back and wait for Palm to complete the Foleo and begin selling it. The hardest for Palm will to get the Foleo out the door with as few bugs as possible and to hit the ground running with third-party application support. If Palm can do that the first Foleo will be successful enough to make the Mobile Companion platform more than a one trick pony.

Avvenu Access ‘n Share Coming to the Palm Foleo

Palm an Avvenu have announced that a Foleo Mobile Companion client for Avvenu’s Access ‘n Share service will be made available on the same day that Palm releases the Foleo.

Previously available for Palm Treo smartphones and PC/Mac web browsers, this new version of Access ‘n Share was developed to take full advantage of Foleo’s large screen size and wireless capabilities. Foleo users can securely browse PC files and folders, preview photos, download and upload documents, and share files with others. Access ‘n Share also provides an optional personal digital locker that allows users to securely store and synchronize files from their PCs to an Avvenu server, providing remote access even when their PCs are turned off or not connected to the Internet.

“Palm Foleo is a great way to display and edit documents and information available on a Palm Treo smartphone,” said Richard French, chief executive officer for Avvenu. “Avvenu Access ‘n Share completes the proposition by allowing Foleo users to remotely access and share files stored on their work or home personal computers, whenever they are connected to the Internet.”

“The combination of a Foleo, Treo and Avvenu Access ‘n Share gives mobile professionals a direct route to access business-critical information without the worry of carrying everything with them,” said Mark Bercow, senior vice president of business development for Palm, Inc. “And the Foleo’s large screen and full-size keyboard is optimal for viewing and editing downloaded PowerPoint or Word documents.”

More information on the Palm Foleo Mobile Companion can be found at the Palm website. Additional information on Avvenu’s Access ‘n Share service can be found on the Avvenu website.

Palm and Bluefire Announce Mobile Security VPN


Earlier today Palm and Baltimore based Bluefire announced a virtual private network (VPN) client for the Palm Foleo Mobile Companion.

“Palm is truly demonstrating its leadership by selecting Bluefire’s mobile VPN client for the Foleo,” said Mark Komisky, chief executive officer for Bluefire. “It is essential that device manufacturers, wireless carriers and other industry leaders be proactive about the growing threat of wireless attacks. Palm Foleo users can be sure that their mobile data is secure.”

“Security features and service are a priority among companies, and we continue to work to make our products compatible with security standards,” said Mark Bercow, senior vice president of business development for Palm, Inc. “Teaming with Bluefire to deliver a secure VPN solution on the Foleo will help protect customer data.”

The announcement of Bluefire VPN client application should be a big win for mobile professionals who will want to access the resources of their corporate network without having to carry their laptop. This should open the door to the corporate network’s secure web applications using the Opera browser and either a broadband cellular data connection from a Treo smartphone or the Foleo’s own built-in Wi-Fi radio.

More information about Palm’s upcoming Foleo Mobile Companion can be found on the Palm website. Additional details about Bluefire’s VPN solution can be found on the Bluefire website.

mDayscape for Palm Foleo Announced

MotionApps has jointly announced with Palm to develop mDayscape a complete personal information manager (PIM) for the Foleo Mobile Companion. The joint press release reads (in part):

“Bringing a contacts, calendar and tasks application to the Foleo further increases usability of the Treo and enhances the user experience in a continued shift away from the desktop and toward a smartphone as a center of computing,” said Voja Lalich, chief executive officer of MotionApps. “All of us at MotionApps are very excited to announce the launch of mDayscape on Palm’s first mobile companion product.”

By building the Palm Foleo on an open Linux-based platform and publishing all the tools people might need, Palm hopes to establish a vibrant developer community to create new applications that extend the mobile companion’s built-in capabilities. MotionApps demonstrates the ease with which exciting technology andapplications can be ported to the Palm Foleo Mobile Companion.

“Using MotionApps’ Quick Add feature, a user can add a new calendar event in seconds, and the event will be mirrored automatically on the user’s smartphone. All this is done with the comfort, efficiency and convenience of the full-size keyboard and wide screen on Foleo,” said Mark Bercow, senior vice president of business development for Palm, Inc.

MotionApps announcement to deliver a full featured PIM suite to the Palm Foleo is welcomed news. One of the criticisms of the Foleo was that it lacked basic personal information management tools that made Palm’s PDA handhelds and Treo smartphones so popular.

For more information about Palm’s new Foleo Mobile Companion you can visit the Palm website. Additional information about mDayscape and release notification can be found on the MotionApps website. mDayscape will be available for purchase on the same day the Palm Foleo is released. Further details about pricing and availability has not been announced.

Read the complete press release

Astraware Announces Titles for the Palm Foleo

Palm and Astraware have issued joint press releases to announce Astraware’s support of the Foleo Mobile Companion. Two of Astraware’s most popular games, Soduko and Solitaire will be developed for the Palm Foleo with a pledge to release additional titles in the future. The press release reads (in part):

“The Palm Foleo is a unique and exciting new type of device, and we’re thrilled to make two great popular games available for its users,” said David Oakley, chief technology officer for Astraware. “The Foleo is an ideal companion for high-powered, time-starved executives, and Solitaire and Sudoku are ideal games to let them relax once their work is done.”

“Business productivity is a major driving force for mobile computing; however we also believe in the importance of balancing work and personal time,” said Mark Bercow, senior vice president of business development for Palm, Inc. “This is why we give mobile professionals the option to relax with a game of solitaire or a stimulating puzzle during downtime.”

According to the Astraware representative that I spoke with, Astraware Sudoku and Solitaire will be available for purchase on the same day the Palm Foleo Mobile Companion launches. Pricing and availability is not known at this time, except in so far as Palm has committed to releasing the Foleo later this summer.

More information about Palm’s Foleo Mobile Companion can be found on the Palm website. Additional information about Astraware’s line up of popular mobile games can be found on the Astraware website.

Read the complete press release

The Foleo Team Interviews Jeff Hawkins

The Palm Foleo team has posted a new audio interview with company founder Jeff Hawkins to try to answer some of the questions that have been appearing in discussion forums on blogs like Foleo Fanatics.

You can listen to the interview or download the .mp3 file here.

Brighthand: Why I Like the Mobile Companion Concept


Ed Hardy has a new editorial over on Brighthand. In it he writes:

“A few weeks ago, Palm, Inc. unveiled the Foleo, the first product in its new “Mobile Companion” category.

This won’t be a handheld, smartphone, or laptop. As its name suggests, it will be a special-purpose device intended to act in conjunction with a smartphone and not replacing it, letting people view the Web and their email on a larger screen and enter text with a full-size keyboard

Even though Palm doesn’t want to admit it, it’s not the first company to develop something like this. The first one I can think of that that attracted worldwide attention was the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, which was recently followed up by the N800.

Whether you call the device a Mobile Companion or an Internet Tablet, this is a class of devices that I believe has a great deal of potential.”

Keep reading

IT Business Edge Foleo Article

Rob Enderle has written an good editorial over on ITBusinessEdge.com on the state of computing, and discusses how an idea like the Palm Foleo can play a role in the transformation of computing. Mr. Enderle writes:

“The Promise of Foleo

You shouldn’t look at Foleo as a done product. It isn’t. Much like the first Palm Pilot, smartphone, or PC, this is the beginning of what could be a major change. Palm doesn’t have all of the parts, many are being created by others, some of whom are Palm partners, and some Palm likely doesn’t even know about yet.

As cool as it looks, the Foleo is only the beginning. We are at the forefront of a major change, one that could make obsolete the PC as we know it, make products like the iPhone, as a class, look foolish in hindsight, and could provide us with a level of security, reliability, and portability we have only seen in science fiction.”

Read the full article

Thanks to 1SRC member bulls96 for sending in this tip.

Foleo Fails to Address Mobile User Needs

Ryan, over at Palm InfoCenter, has posted an article called “Analyst Says Foleo Fails to Address Mobile User Needs“.

In the article, Gartner’s PDA/Smartphone sector analyst Todd Kort goes on about how the Foleo is going to be a flop. While I don’t have access to the entire report, I have to wonder: Has Kort ever said anything good about Palm?

Here is to hoping that Kort is wrong. (Again.)

Read the PIC article

UPDATE:

6/11/07
You can read the summary of Todd Kort’s Palm Foleo analysis on the Gartner website.