Jeff Hawkins Talks About the Foleo

Palm founder, Jeff Hawkins, spent some time talking about the Foleo with Patrick Seitz of Investor’s Business Daily.

The Q&A with Hawkins was originally published as a sidebar to a larger article discussing the growing popularity of the “netbook”, a small form factor notebook computer designed to ultra portable providing easy access to the web, email, and writing. Palm chose to cancel the Foleo in September of 2007 to focus on rewriting the aging Palm OS mobile operating systems that powers many of the company’s most popular smartphones, including the consumer-oriented Centro.

The following is an excerpt from the Investor’s Business Daily interview with Mr. Hawkins:

“IBD: Why didn’t Palm have the confidence in Foleo to go forward?

Hawkins: I don’t think that Palm didn’t have confidence in it. Palm has its issues and challenges. At the time, they were in the process of closing this major financing, restructuring deal with Elevation Partners.

And as part of that deal, they brought in Jon Rubenstein, who’s a great guy. He was at Apple (AAPL) and did all the iPod stuff. He came in basically to take over product stuff, because I really hadn’t been running the product design center at Palm for several years. They came in with a particular strategy that they wanted to pursue at Palm, and that strategy didn’t have room for Foleo.

It was clear Foleo had technical issues. It was a first-generation product. We’d have to launch it and then do another gen within a year. And that’s a big commitment of people and dollars.

It was a strategic decision to pursue a different approach. I don’t think they made a mistake. We haven’t seen the outcome of that decision yet. It really was not acrimonious at all. It was just business.

I’m a little disappointed, only because I loved the product concept. I’d really like to own one. And I’m a believer in it. And I’d love to end my design career at Palm with a success there.

They may still come back to it. They haven’t totally written it off.

IBD: So you didn’t get to keep a Foleo?

Hawkins: Oh, I have one. Oh, yeah, I got to keep one. I have the beta release. The hardware is very reliable. It works great.”

You can read the full Hawkins Q&A here.

As many of my long time readers know, I was one of the few people who did get to play with a pre-production Foleo. It really was a great idea. At the end of the day, I didn’t care that it wasn’t running a Linux varient or Microsoft’s Windows XP. I wanted a light-weight device that looked great and offered long battery life with easy access to the web, email, and an office suite. (DataViz provided a Foleo specific version of their award-winning Documents To Go application.)

However, the Foleo, as originally designed, was not a stand along computer. It needed to be tethered to a Palm OS or Windows Mobile smartphone and, as discussed in the article, the Wind River Linux operating system and core applications were not ready to go live. I’m looking forward to 2009 when Pam OS II/Nova smartphones are shipping because if Palm does decided to do a new Foleo, the Nova opertaing system will likely be the foundation for such a device.

Read the full Investor’s Business Daily interview


  • bulls96

    wasnt it nice that this came out a day after the 1src podcast was released? 🙂 would have been another 30 mins for you i’m sure 🙂 glad to hear from JH.


    Excellent Article, I think its great how he discussed how there was two camps, those that loved the idea of having an instant on very small portable that accomplished certain things and did them quickly and efficiently with no hassle, versus those who hated it and were trying to make it out to be something that it isnt. It isn’t an ASUS EEE PC. The idea was to have it tethered and synchronized with your smartphone so that you could quickly enter copious amounts of information into the TREO easily using a full size screen or keyboard while you are on the go, without having to boot your laptop. I still think this is a great product and would still buy one. However, the naysayers did have valid points such as week web content support, in todays day and age people will not only demand but require a capable web platform and will demand 3G. I also do not disagree with palm’s decision to hold off, they SORELY need to focus on PALM OS II and getting some Treo’s with some REAL motivation for people who are using 650’s to upgrade. So far I am sticking with my 650, there is no real incentive for me to spend another 4 to 500 dollars on a new treo. There’s simply nothing new.


    Also he states that he looks forward to 2009 for Palm OS II. Thats laughable. We are in fact a few months away from new years. The holidays are right around the corner, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see anything until New Years 2009.Palm, give me something so new and so fresh that I’ll be forced to go out and spend a grand on a new Treo, a Foleo, and Vaja leather to boot. The economy is doing horrible. People aren’t doing as great. Price your products adequately. Even apples new Iphone commercial prominently states you can now get an Iphone for half of what the original price was.Give me some fresh applications, new applications like Home Inventory software akin to Intelliscanner. Microsoft has released the Internals of the Office Document file formats, give us New Office 2 Go with full fledged support. Give us Firefox on the platform natively, not some slow java crap implementation.Give us the REAL DEAL, not half ass shareware app’s. Then you’ll get your groove back. You’ll create a fresh environment where developers will develop because people will clamor for new and exciting apps.The Iphone is great, but its more of a toy. I want productivity and office apps, not so much to be cool. Your working in the middle genre between a blackberry’s limited GUI and the Iphone’s capabilities. Don’t try to be something your not, just be the best that you can be. Your original palm followers will appreciate that.