Palm CEO Ed Colligan has announced the last-minute cancellation of the Foleo, what was to be Palm’s new smartphone companion. Ed cites the difficulties of simultaneously developing two platforms as the biggest reason for calling the project off, but he’s adamant that a Foleo II will come into the picture after their new handheld OS is all polished off and settled. Hardly anyone was looking forward to the $499 pseudo-laptop, and others thought that ditching the project was key to Palm’s survival, but the fact that they’re still clinging to the idea of a smartphone companion is a little disturbing.
Palm’s painful excuse for a smartphone accessory could be hitting shelves August 22nd. For those lucky souls who weren’t around for the announcement, the Foleo is set to be a new kind of companion device that pairs up with your handheld by Bluetooth, and basically gives you a full screen and keyboard. In short, it’s a crappy laptop that will cost you $499. Don’t mistake this post as actual interest in the Foleo; it is solely out of a sense of solemn civic duty to my dear readers that I report this. Honestly, this should be filed under “Humor”, not “Rumor”. Speaking of which, if you’d like to meet the poor sap who has to try to sell the damned thing, take a lookee over here.
Palm was slated to bust out a new consumer-oriented OS this year, but CEO Ed Colligan says it’s not happening until ’08. Palm’s still going to be supporting Windows Mobile, in a vain dual-pronged attempt to stave off their inevitably slow, painful death. The new Linux-based OS would have to pull some pretty massive bunnies out of some very tiny hats in order to offset the shuddering 43% drop in profits last quarter. The Gandolf and Foleo sure aren’t going to save Palm, that’s for sure.
Elevation Partners, a private investing group including Bono and Apple’s old iPod division head Jon Rubinstein, just dished out $325 million for Palm stock, earning them 25% of the company and some seats on Palm’s board of directors.
Upon closing of the transaction, Jon Rubinstein … will join Palm as executive chairman of the board. Fred Anderson and Roger McNamee, managing directors and co-founders of Elevation, will join Palm’s board of directors upon closing of the transaction. Rubinstein, Anderson, and McNamee will replace Eric Benhamou and D. Scott Mercer, who will resign from Palm’s board of directors at that time.
I was refraining from giving Palm’s recently-released Foleo even the slightest nod of recognition, but after hearing Todd Kort of Gartner research say “This is the most disappointing product I’ve seen in years”, you can’t help but laugh. The Foleo is Palm’s newest launch, which piggybacks on the Treo to offer mock-laptop document management and web viewing. Seriously, Palm, if people are going to lug around a full screen and keyboard, they might as well just have their computer and save themselves the hassle of handling two devices.