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Palm ignores history, forges ahead.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

I've long been a fan of clamshell design mobile companions.  They start quickly, they're ultralight, and their batteries way outlast laptops.  Does anyone remember the NEC Mobilepro line?  How about the Sharp Mobilon Pro?  The Vadem Clio? Don't worry.  Nobody will hold it against you if you can't remember them… it's been nearly 10 years since these products were on the market, although you can still pick up a ready (if dwindling) supply of used ones on EBay.

They were all what we in the Windows CE group at the time dubbed HPCs, or Handheld PCs.  Running Windows CE, with solid state memory, they were designed as companions for a desktop.  And they were superb!  They were also abandoned like a hot rock by the industry when a runaway hit called Palm entered the market and showed everyone that a pocketable tablet with basic handwriting recognition (the PDA, as we call it today) was the wave of the future.

That's why there's more than a little irony in Palm's announcement of the Foleo today.  The Foleo is a 2.5 lb clamshell, with a five hour battery life, that does email and web, and is married to a Treo, as opposed to a PC.  In fact, it appears that the only connectivity option the Foleo has is a Treo. 

Without commenting on the Foleo specifically, because I haven't seen it yet, I'm a huge proponent of this class of device. But a breakthrough device?  The future of the company? As the old saying goes, "Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it".

For Palm's sake, let's hope that's not the case.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Pascal Venier May 30, 2007, 12:05 pm

    … Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose! ;-)

  • Alec May 30, 2007, 12:17 pm

    Merci Pascal :) I knew a francophone would correct it before long… I was more concerned with the cedilla on ca, because my keyboard can't do that.

  • VEC7OR May 30, 2007, 2:56 pm

    Stop whining people, problem why all those sub-sub-notebooks failed in the 90' is because the lacked normal storage (no we have SD, CF), lack of normal networking (now we have Wi-Fi) and lacked the power for normal multimedia (TX can play movies with a decent speed), so NOW this product is appropriate. And all those whines about getting a ~500$ notebook, come on for this amount of cash you get crap.

  • Moshe Maeir May 31, 2007, 2:04 pm

    Hey Alec,
    You forgot the HP Jornada, I once won one at a raffle at a Microsoft sponsored lecture, then traded it for a Palm Vx. It was a cool device, but neither here or there, smaller than a laptop, but too limited to really schlep around.

  • Alec May 31, 2007, 5:47 pm

    You're so right Moshe. I used a Jornada for a bit too.

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