Palm Introduces New Laptop Product Line

Aimed as a 'companion' for its smartphones but essentially a computer on its own, Palm introduced the Foleo, a Linux-powered laptop-like device.

The Foleo is connected to the smartphone and allows the user to read and edit documents and e-mail, and has web browsing capabilities. The device also features built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and can use the phone's radio to access the Internet.

Additional features include a USB port, video-out port, headphone jack, and SD and Compact Flash card slots.

While it is designed for the Palm Treo, non-Palm smartphones based on Windows Mobile will likely work with little or no modification. Software modifications could make smartphones from Research In Motion, Apple, and Symbian operable with the device as well.

Palm is billing the device as an innovation as big as the PDAs the company first pioneered over a decade ago. "The Palm Foleo represents our first product in a new line of solutions that will redefine how people work while away from their desks," president and CEO Ed Colligan said.

With the smartphone market growing rapidly and content increasingly going digital, the company says it is the right time to introduce such a product.

Additional functionality is planned for the Foleo, and Palm has opened up the platform to allow developers to create new applications for the device. Software will be installable through a single click within the web browser.

Analysts say that the product has a lot of potential, but does face some challenges. "The real question is can Foleo become a platform in and of itself and is that the end-game here? Is Palm trying for a new platform for mobile computing and not just a companion product?" JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg questioned.

"That's a whole different ball game with a whole different set of challenges."

The Foleo is expected to become available during the summer for $499 after an introductory $100 rebate.

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