Why Palm Was Beaten

A while ago, I wrote a response to an article talking about how the Pocket PC beat Palm. You can catch up on that here. Today, we see exactly why Palm was beaten, and will continue to be.

Meet the Palm Foleo.

Finally, what we've all been waiting for... A small laptop that does half the things that a real laptop does, at the same price as a real laptop!

What's surprising about this is not so much that Palm launched something like this, but that they already did it before (when they were part of 3com), and it was a total failure!

So what's the big deal? If HP or Dell launched a product like this, everyone would see it as a little diskless laptop that's small and easy to carry around. Under the right circumstances (that it runs Windows), it might actually be successful. But this product has been a much anticipated "revolution" that was going to save Palm. It was going to be so big and huge, that everyone would want one (kind of like a Segway).

It's really just an underpowered laptop that targets the "only wants to do email and web surfing" market (which time and again has been proven not to exist), and can sync contacts and stuff with your cell phone. It costs as much as a real laptop, and it runs a custom version of Linux (probably it's only redeeming quality). It might be worth the price if it was half the cost (currently $499 with a $100 rebate).

At the product launch, Jeff Hawkins, the creator of the original Palm Pilot and a generally smart guy said, "we conceived of it five years ago".

I think that's a pretty good way to sum it up. The Foleo is 5 years out of date. It'll be useful in a year or so when they show up on eBay as liquidated stock (along with most of Palm's other assets), and the Linux guys get a full version of Linux running on it.

But really, it's this type of thinking that has led Palm down this path, and it's why Palm was beaten.