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View Poll Results: Is Palm still exciting to you?
YES! I can't wait to see all the great products roll out! 5 13.51%
SOMEWHAT. I'm still a Palm fan and look forward to the future. 9 24.32%
NOPE. They just don't have anything good left in them. 18 48.65%
FORGET IT! Palm's not interesting or relevant. Who cares anymore! 5 13.51%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-30-2007, 08:33 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Poll: Is Palm still interesting and relevant?

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.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:01 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:19 PM   #3
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Good questions

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.

Last edited by mogui; 05-30-2007 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:27 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 05-30-2007, 10:12 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 05-31-2007, 04:02 AM   #6
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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.
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Old 05-31-2007, 10:34 AM   #7
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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.
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Old 05-31-2007, 11:02 AM   #8
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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.
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Old 05-31-2007, 11:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
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. ;-)
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:01 PM   #10
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:02 PM   #11
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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."
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:10 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:34 PM   #13
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Don't discount them yet!
Thinking aloud is good. It stirs things to view unless you're in a crowded bus that is!

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.
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:03 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 05-31-2007, 07:47 PM   #15
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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!).
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