Monday, August 27, 2007

Is it a Sure-fire Money Loser?


Back to my interest in gadgets for a moment, I've been interested in the reactions to Palm's announcement of a new mobile device called the Foleo. It's basically a keyboard and screen that you use with your smartphone. It's a little smaller than a laptop, and a little cheaper than a laptop, but otherwise, it's basically just like a laptop, except with its brains taken out and residing in a nearby cellphone.
I can understand the need for a keyboard that goes with a PDA or phone, and I have one that I sometimes use with my Treo, if I want to write blog posts while traveling, perhaps. My keyboard cost $99, and it folds so it's not that much bigger than the Treo itself, and the whole point of having it is to avoid having to carry a laptop. The whole point of PDAs and smartphones, in fact, seems to be to avoid having to carry a laptop. So it was no surprise to me that when Palm announced the Foleo, the response on all the gadget websites seemed to be "HUH?" and it was quickly dubbed the "Fooleo."
So my question is, if you're the CEO of Palm and you've just announced a product that seems to be universally perceived as a dud, what do you do? Forge ahead hoping that enough people will still spend $500 on this device to make it profitable? Cut your losses while you can and cancel the product? Try to market the heck out of the thing to make potential users believe there is actually a need for it? I suppose the American economy has been driven by many inventions that were initially thought to be stupid and useless... but what would you do if you were trying to sell a product that your target customers seemed to just hate? Give up? Keep trying?

6 comments:

richc.us said...

As a Treo 700p user, I say give up and create a sexy Treo that will have even iPhone people wanting one. (probably not going to happen, but seeing the 'blurry photos' of the 800, I know they are not on the correct path) Thanks for reinforcing my thought in regard to the Fooleo.

Jonathan said...

Earlier in your post you said it would cost $99, which I thought was about right.

But later you said (and I confirmed elsewhere) that it's going for $500?!?! That's just silly. Look for a $250 rebate coming soon...

Charles said...

It's hard to say whether it will be successful or not. The original Palm Pilot created by Jeff Hawkins met its share of doubters (who's going to learn a new alphabet?) and following the trail blazed by the Apple Newton, its success could be also called a surprise.

Hawkins is supposedly behind the Foleo, so maybe he sees something that we don't. Too early to tell, but pre-announcing and letting it drag this long is not a good sign.

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Adam said...

Palm is Dead On Arrival unless they start innovating. They haven't done anything notable in some six or seven years. They are leaps and bounds behind their competition and what used to be a loyal following is now saying, "WTF?". It's like they lost their Mojo or something. Folio is a dud. It's not innovative. It makes no sense at all and I wouldn't pay a hundred bucks for it, let alone five hundred. They desperately need help. Not sure what the answer is, but it's clear to customers that Palm doesn't know either, and that's not good.

Joe from Palo Alto said...

Hi there,

A big fan of yours. Fooleo is killed by Palm CEO (official Palm Blog, Sept 4, 2007). I love gadgets, but cannot stand stupid gadgets.

Keep up the good blog!