View Full Version : Poll: Is Palm still interesting and relevant?


Bob Russell
05-30-2007, 09:33 PM
With recent events, I can't help but think about the Foleo announcement, the stagnancy of the Treo line, the lack of new Palm standalone PDAs, the withering ecosystem of PalmOS, the inevitable bugs and issues with PalmOS on Linux as a new emulated version, etc, etc.

Years back, Palm Pilot was the most exciting thing going in the mobile computing world. They did it again to some degree with the Treo. But the Foleo has limited appeal to tech fans. There is obviously not much in the way of product innovation left, and there's no longer a Sony Clie to push things forward.

So let me ask some very simple questions...
1) Do you have great expectations for Palm's future?
2) Do you still expect great products from Palm?
3) Do you think your next smartphone will be a Treo?
4) Is Palm even relevant to the future of mobile computing?

To be honest, while I've been a huge fan of Palm for years (even in uncertain and lean times), I don't really know how I feel anymore. I am disappointed that we haven't seen more from Palm, and my expectations are crashing. The Foleo is clearly not what tech fanatics were hoping for, even if it can succeed on the market financially. Maybe this is only the tip of the iceberg, and we'll love future versions?

But really - is there any magic left at Palm? For the first time, I seriously wonder. Maybe their day is past, and we only have the fond memories.

So what do you think? Anyone else feeling let down and disappointed by Palm? Is it just a reaction to Foleo, or is it years of frustrated hope? Or maybe you are just as excited as ever about Palm.

Tell us what you think.

RWood
05-30-2007, 10:01 PM
1) Do you have great expectations for Palm's future?

No, they have waited too long between releases and missed the boat. They allowed the Blackberry to gain the high ground and become the critical business element that they could have been. They spent too long perfecting their flawed input system and never got email right.

2) Do you still expect great products from Palm?

Want, hope, yes. Believe, no.

3) Do you think your next smartphone will be a Treo?

I still use a Sprint Samsung i500 with Palm OS 4.1. I do all of the input on my PC and do a one-way sync to the phone. I never bother to add data to the phone and upload it to the PC. It took me about 10 minutes to write a 2 line (~70 characters) note once and I never tried again. There was a nice flow to the OS but it is showing its age. Since the reading functions are now taken over by the Sony Reader and almost all phones have implemented an expanded directory/contact function, the advantages of the Palm are marginal.

4) Is Palm even relevant to the future of mobile computing?

They have made themselves marginal. I look at the new offering and think I'm looking at a copy of a 12 year old Psion.

mogui
05-30-2007, 10:19 PM
Very good questions, Bob. You brought focus to my unease.

The first time I saw the Palm, I was able to borrow one for a few days. I was underwhelmed. There wasn't anything I absolutely had to have it for. When I finally bought one a few months later it was after I had gained an appreciation for all the great apps that were available and, best of all, I could read books!

They say the spreadsheet made the Apple ][ a market success. There has always been that key application that makes a device a must have. Is the large-screen extension of the Treo (by the Foleo) this kind of killer app? I don't have a smartphone, so I don't have a feeling for this question.

There might be other ways to extend the user interface of the Treo and its ilk. Maybe a projector screen with a surface-projected keyboard. Maybe voice control. Maybe VR glasses.

I am still excited about Palm because I think the future of mobile computing will fit in a shirt pocket (or less), contain vast amounts of memory, have good connectivity, and bring us user-interface innovations that perhaps we have not yet envisioned. I also believe in Hawkins. If there is a mobile computing pied piper, it is him.

RWood
05-30-2007, 10:27 PM
You're right mogui, Visi-Calc for the Apple ][ and Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM PC.

Everyone has PDA like contact features for their cell phones and I have read more on the Sony Reader in the last 7 months than in the whole lifetime of Palm equipped phones.

Steven Lyle Jordan
05-30-2007, 11:12 PM
When the Palm Pilot came out, I was intrigued, but less than thrilled by the form factor (especially losing screen space to the permanent text reco space). I also knew too many people who seemed underwhelmed with the actual use of their Palm devices.. they worked, but just okay enough for them (and they didn't want anything outside of PIM functions).

By the time Palm started to address those issues, I had already discovered very workable PDAs by Casio, then TI, then Psion/EPOC, then Toshiba/MS, and moved on. Now, I don't even give Palm a second thought... too little, too late.

But this doesn't mean I absolutely won't own one someday. Maybe, when my current PDA expires, and I need something else, I might buy a Palm... or something else. I've used too many OSs and form factors to discount one, until I need one and I see what they've got.

rlauzon
05-31-2007, 05:02 AM
1) Do you have great expectations for Palm's future?

Yes. My expectations are great. But based on what I've seen lately, it's unlikely my expectations will be met.

2) Do you still expect great products from Palm?

Yes. No great products means no marketshare which means no more PDAs (WinCE units are useless).

3) Do you think your next smartphone will be a Treo?

No. "Smartphones" are useless to me. Having my PDA held hostage by my cell phone company makes it even more useless.

4) Is Palm even relevant to the future of mobile computing?

Yes. They still have a huge base of users. They just need to keep them.

JAcheson
05-31-2007, 11:34 AM
I don't want "magic" from Palm, just basic competance.

The sad fact is, their core products are five years behind the cutting edge at this point, and continuing to fall behind. They're chubby, overpriced, and they don't get updated frequently enough.

I don't want a miracle, I just want a Zire that's not half an inch thick. I want a PDA with a thumb-board. I want hardshell cases that don't break within a month.

yvanleterrible
05-31-2007, 12:02 PM
The market for computers is in constant flux. When you live between cracks it is even harder, if you're not a big player, to choose a direction.

The UMPC is the biggest threat to Palm.
I would have thought they would have jumped in and given us a different UMPC but they instead have chosen a completely different tack towards a 'castrated laptop'. Their offer is just that; it is not portable enough because of its size and weight and its functions are shortened by the necessitous addition of a Treo.

A UMPC Palm, thinner than existing devices would bring them back to their former status.

Bob Russell
05-31-2007, 12:17 PM
instead have chosen a completely different tack towards a 'castrated laptop'.Interesting phrase that seems all too appropriate. Quite ironic... as its claim to fame is its ability to mate (with a smartphone)!

Of course, as much as I might tend to complain about the product not being what I wish it was, I still want one. ;-)

UncleDuke
05-31-2007, 01:01 PM
dead as a doorknob

Bob Russell
05-31-2007, 02:02 PM
Interesting.... so far, people here (who are naturally in the sweet spot for appreciating Palm) are saying 2:1 that Palm has nothing worthwhile left in them. I think that a lot of people had hoped for much more with the secret 3rd line of business and the PalmOS on Linux. I wonder how much of this is just an expression of frustration (which is what I'm feeling towards Palm at the moment, if you haven't noticed) or if it's a sincere feeling that Palm's day has passed.

With the Foleo release, it almost feels like Palm's future disappeared in a puff of smoke. The great hope was a gutted laptop, and general computing on PalmOS? The Foleo itself (in it's present form) really isn't as good as a UMPC, and people don't really want to do their general computing on PalmOS (or Win Mobile for that matter). The UMPC should be able to do all the tricks that the Foleo can, and the Foleo isn't even cheap enough to buy as an accessory. Who will want it? I'm guessing corporate field organizations that basically want their staff to have smartphones and a thin client, with constant connectivity.

What does Palm have left for mobile computing fans? Standalone PDAs are gone, so it's down to the Treo line, which seems to never really develop much. After the Treo 600, we've seen only tiny incremental improvements - Treos are sold around the world, have more memory, a faster data connection and a high res screen. Not a lot more than that in many years.

Apparently, the big success of Palm over the last few years was the creation of PalmOS on Linux and Treo on WinMobile. How can we get excited about that?

Maybe the magic was really in PalmSource (now Access)? Will we find that they have a credible platform soon? I hope so, because I'm afraid that with the exception of UMPCs, I'm starting to wonder if mobile technology will bore me to death for a few years now.

It could be time to read a good e-book and wait for someone to produce an interesting mobile device once again. ;)

Disclaimer: I'm frustrated at the moment. Don't hold me to my current opinions. They are still being formulated, and I'm basically thinking out loud. Yes, that's a dangerous thing to do, especially when you are frustrated. But I think it may help others to work through their own frustrations, so maybe it's good.

And how can one really ever think of Palm as anything but the creator of widespread mobile computing? I guess even as we are disappointed for now, they have earned our lifelong appreciation, and Hawkins is still a hero for the Palm Pilot and Treo, which were spectacular successes.

In fact, maybe we have underestimated Hawkins. Maybe this first try at the Foleo line is really not even close to what he really has in mind. Maybe it's only meant to be a pre-Foleo model that can start the production lines rolling in preparation for a "real" device that people will want. Maybe, maybe, maybe... I think Palm used up all our faith for a great new thing just around the corner. Now, after ongoing frustrations, it's more like "prove it to me, and show it to me, and spell it out in detail, and then I'll believe."

KDawg
05-31-2007, 02:10 PM
I've been a Palm fanboy from the beginning. I had a Palm 5000. After struggling with various organizers I was immediately converted to Palm's simplicity, especially with regards to syncing data with the PC.

Flash forward ten years or so to my Palm T|X. It has a nice screen and integrated bluetooth and wifi is nice, but not necessary. The battery life is good, but nothing like it was when you could turn the backlight off. I don't really care about music or video on the Palm because it can't touch my ipod for simplicity, especially with regards to syncing music and video (common theme for me). I'm on a Mac now so I have to buy 3rd party sync software. Graffiti 2 sucks. The T|X reboots several times a week, usually when running Palm's own email and web clients. I'm out of love.

The Sony Reader has replaced the Palm for me for reading. The iPhone will collapse my contacts/calendar, phone, and iPod into one gadget. What do I need the Palm for now?

I was hoping for more from the Folio but I think the Palm Shark Jumper is a better name.

Goodbye Palm.

yvanleterrible
05-31-2007, 02:34 PM
Don't discount them yet!
Thinking aloud is good. It stirs things to view unless you're in a crowded bus that is! :laugh4:

We still don't know what good this device is at this point. Third party has not had a word in yet. And we still have to put paw to the machine.

What I'd say now in retrospect is that we have been graced with the Iliad or should I say spoiled. The Iliad is a wonderful mobile computer that has not quite yet reached its potential. We have seen it grow and stumble and grow again. If the Foleo had appeared before, we would have embraced it at first sight. How can Palm have not studied the Iliad and take fruit from its evolution? A product such as the Foleo must have been in the works for at least three years, Palm could not have foreseen the Iliad, but they would have had time to tweak the Foleo up to par!

I sense too that in the Foleo/Treo duo, Palm, as Sony/Connect, have been looking for an Apple iPod/iTunes type blockbuster.

Again, time will tell.

RWood
05-31-2007, 03:03 PM
I has a Psion about 10 years back and could do almost everything on it except call people and listen to music. It was easy to use, had a good battery life, lots of apps to play with, I could move a few books to it and read them as easily as I can with mobi or ereader. The screen was great for the period. Add to that a good keyboard and the modem and it would hold its own against most devices today.

I think Palm spent too much time and energy in corporate reorganization that they lost sight of the market years ago. They rested on their past success (or successes if you will) while the market passed them by. I won't consign them to the scrap heap of history yet; but, at the rate they are going Palm OS may soon take its place on the shelf next to CP/M.

Azayzel
05-31-2007, 08:47 PM
I was one of the original adopters of Palm way back when they first came out, but jumped ship when they refused to go color (took them a while and when they finally did it was only 16 colors). I think they rested too long on their laurels and the PDA cruise ship left them at the dock. While they saw bit of a resurgence with the Treo's popularity, the UI has barely changed and the look is essentially the same. If you're against change and innovation, this is good, but I like to keep my upward momentum; so I think that while Palm may retain some of their loyal (and aging) followers, the death is imminent, especially with, as yvan pointed out, the rapidly shrinking, fill-featured, UMPC line <- this will be the death of PDA's as we know them, since they are essentially becoming portable PC's. The PC/Tech world isn't so much dog-eat-dog as it is a prime example of survival of the fittest and only those that adapt survive.

For you Linux nuts, Sharp's line of Zaurus' is still moving and is, in effect, the smallest PC you can buy (at a fairly cheap rate too!).

Azayzel
05-31-2007, 08:50 PM
When the Palm Pilot came out, I was intrigued, but less than thrilled by the form factor (especially losing screen space to the permanent text reco space). I also knew too many people who seemed underwhelmed with the actual use of their Palm devices.. they worked, but just okay enough for them (and they didn't want anything outside of PIM functions).

By the time Palm started to address those issues, I had already discovered very workable PDAs by Casio, then TI, then Psion/EPOC, then Toshiba/MS, and moved on. Now, I don't even give Palm a second thought... too little, too late.

But this doesn't mean I absolutely won't own one someday. Maybe, when my current PDA expires, and I need something else, I might buy a Palm... or something else. I've used too many OSs and form factors to discount one, until I need one and I see what they've got.

I'm with Steve on this as well, I jumped ship from Palm when the Casio Cassiopea lured me away with a larger screen... with color (course it was a bit bulky, but hey, it could take a CF card!).

Studio717
05-31-2007, 09:39 PM
I still have all my Palms, back to the III. I use my current Zire 72 AND T|X a lot, so at least for me, I find Palms useful in the present if not the future.

My problem with the Foleo is that I don't yet know what it does. Surely they aren't asking folks to pay out $500 just to read their email on a wide screen?

Is it like Alphasmart's Dana? Can it be modded out? Can I use it as a flash laptop (in the sense of, say, word processing or reading PDFs)?

Just from reading the gadget blogs and the Palm site, I still have no idea of its potential. The details are just too fuzzy for me to make any kind of pronouncement about it.

Until those and many more questions are answered and more details emerge, I don't think I have a clue as to whether Palm will still be around or not.

volwrath
05-31-2007, 11:09 PM
I think its possible Palm still has some life in them, as they did release the great 650, and the near perfect 700wx. I want to buy the next windows mobile CDMA palm and have them fix the few flaws that the 700WX has.

In all actuality though, I will probably get the next Motorola Q version .

mogui
05-31-2007, 11:09 PM
Somewhere I saw the Foleo referred to as the "Fooleo", a little sad and a little cruel, but it will probably stick. I too, fail to see the usefulness of it for the majority of us. However, I am still a fan of the monochrome Palm. It does almost everything I need it to do. I would buy a TX if it could do VoIP. Maybe when you have a product line that already does enough things well enough, there is little incentive to change, to introduce innovations, to branch out. I still buy new devices for other purposes (e,g, Sony Reader) but for what I carry in my pocket, my M125 and my TRGpro are good enough. I almost bought a Nokia N800 this spring because of the promise that it would run Skype. Something that size with PDA features would be very useful to me. I use WiFi at home, so it would become my long-distance phone. But that money went to Sony for the Reader. I guess the point of this rambling rant is that I buy something when I see it can do something I really need. If my Palm breaks I will replace it with another Palm -- a small market for them.

yvanleterrible
06-01-2007, 10:24 AM
Okay! Since I know next to nothing about PDAs' recent developments...
(remember my eyesight won't let me us'em :) )
...let me open a can of worms and ask; what's the best PDA these days?

And why is it that no one, as far as I know, has made a PDA sized between a Zaurus and a Foleo? I do remember a small Vaio that was about 12" wide by 8" deep about 5-7 years ago but that's it! And it was'nt a PDA!

Azayzel
06-02-2007, 05:35 AM
I'm still using my iPaq 4150, and haven't seen enough advances in recent ones since I purchased it to warrent an upgrade. I did buy my wife an iPaq rx1715, but it didn't have integrated wifi or bluetooth, so she wanted an upgrade. I then picked her up an iPaq 4700; now this is a powerhouse of a PDA, but it was a bit larger and heavier than my svelt 4150. The screen on the 4700 is phenomenal and since it has WM2003SE on it, you can switch to lansdcape mode with the push of a button; nice for surfing the web or reading e-books. I don't really use my PDA's for MP3's (did a while back, but then I picked up a dedicated/smaller MP3 player), but it's great for palm-sized movies on the go. I also use it quite a bit for PIM functions, like mobile calendar and contacts. I had a SmartPhone in the states, so it pretty much took over most of those functions since it could sync with Outlook, but when I came here I had to revert back to the iPaq since I couldn't find a carrier I could use it with here. There are a ton of apps for the WindowsMobile platform, and many coming out weekly, so I can use it for more than simple PIM functions; i.e., play games, watch movies, study new languages, wifi discovery, pocket translator, et al.

While I love the size/weight of the PDA, I am actively looking for a replacement UMPC to take over the roles, it's just a matter of time when they develope/market a product that has what I want; i.e., instant-on, good size-to-weight ratio, easy input, and decent power consumption. Maybe the OQO v2 will meet some of these? ;)

Steven Lyle Jordan
06-02-2007, 09:39 AM
I am still a fan of the monochrome Palm.

This is the one common comment I keep hearing in this thread, and it's significant.

Remember, when the Palm Pilot first came out, a lot of the geekerati snorted at it as being too underpowered and awkward, compared to the existing PDAs of the day (rough as they were). But with Palm's advertising and promotional efforts, the Pilot was a huge success, and today people who wouldn't even consider a modern PDA still use their old Palms for PIM (because they held up nicely).

Hey, for that matter, think iPod. It outsold cheaper, just as capable MP3 players, again, thanks to an aggressive promotional effort (and, in their case, unique styling).

Now the same group has a new device. The Geekerati are reacting the same way, too: Who cares? Bur Hawkins and Gates want to push this kind of device. And they've both got decent track records for pushing less-than-stellar devices to the top of the heap.

Bottom line: I'm not ready to bet against them yet.

NatCh
06-02-2007, 12:20 PM
So, then, have I ascended to the ranks of Geekerati? That's so cool! :cool:

rlauzon
06-02-2007, 01:58 PM
Remember, when the Palm Pilot first came out, a lot of the geekerati snorted at it as being too underpowered and awkward, compared to the existing PDAs of the day (rough as they were). But with Palm's advertising and promotional efforts, the Pilot was a huge success, and today people who wouldn't even consider a modern PDA still use their old Palms for PIM (because they held up nicely).

You are partially right. It was advertising that made Palm an initial success. But it is where it is today because some geeks fell in love with the device - made new and exciting software for it and pushed the unit far beyond what Palm's creators envisioned.

Take a look at most technology. Products that locked out the geeks tend to fail. Products that let the geeks explore and expand the product tend to succeed.

Remember, it's the geeks who like shiny new toys (preferably ones with blinking lights). It's the geeks who blaze the new trails in technology. And, more importantly for the Foleo, it's the geeks who get the new technology, figure out how to use it in the business and show management what can be done with it.

If the Foleo doesn't get geek support, it will be no more than an overpriced Treo add-on - and will probably fail.

mogui
06-02-2007, 10:21 PM
Yes, the geek factor . . .

IMHO the reason the PC took off in 1981 was that it became an open standard for hardware and software. Manufacturers could design for the ISA bus and software developers had the PC Bible full of BIOS calls and interrupt vectors. Before long it was obvious that, though Apple was better in some respects, the PC had more and cheaper options. That was the same reason the Amiga was not a market success.

Similarly, the Palm quickly had a big following among software developers. It was not long before Tucows and its peers offered a huge choice of software.

Now look at Linux. Anyone can sharpen their software skills by contributing to an open-source project. Participation confers a sense of ownership, territoriality, and a sense of in-group loyalty. The Linux following is so huge it is held as an example of cultural evolution.

How will the Foleo fellows proceed?

Bob Russell
06-02-2007, 11:14 PM
I wonder how he motivates Linux development, though. He keeps the future of the Foleo secret and sells it like an email smartphone companion for now. If that's all it is, on a slow ARM processor, why do people want to write software for it? But if he shares the future, then while he motivates developers, he might make the idea too easy to copy.

Sort of like the chicken and the egg problem, but there's also a fox in the hen house!