Palm's new Linux Foleo

By   |  May 31, 2007

Mobile device specialists Palm have stepped away from the handheld device market with the launch of the larger, Linux-based Foleo which is a lot more like a notebook than a handheld device. But will it catch on?

The company has used Linux to build a what it calls a “new class of mobile device”. Linux Devices reports that the Foleo aims to expand the email, internet, and productivity application capabilities of mobile phones such as the Palm Treo, by adding a full-size keyboard and a larger screen.”

Expected to enter the market at around US$500 (R3 585), the Foleo is essentially a Linux-based, large-screen companion device to the Treo, allowing users to create emails and edit documents using a 10-inch display and a full-sized keyboard. The new device, which weighs in at just over 1 kilogram and syncs with the user’s Treo. Battery life is apparently around five hours.

InformationWeek quotes Palm’s Jeff Hawkins who said at the launch of the product: “Foleo is a really inexpensive, small, beautiful device. It’s got Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Linux, a USB port, a lot of memory and memory expansion, and you can do an awful lot with that product.” In the future, he added, “we’ll see where it takes us.”

However, InformationWeek points out that what the new device doesn’t do is address Palm’s most glaring current weakness which is getting the much-needed buy-in from developers and the potential carriers.

Palm has promised a new Linux-based operating system for the Treo by year’s end, with devices based on the new OS available in early 2008. That’s a long time off in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

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