There are a lot fewer Palm fanboys than there used to be, but they're all hoping that Palm founder Jeff Hawkins brings the love during his convo with Walt at the D Conference today as he introduces the Foleo. All of Walt's questions are in bold.
10:31am - Last time you were here talking about the brain... you basically created the first handheld computer. You've been working on something else for a couple years.
The concept of this product is five years old, devleopment is a couple hours. A little history behind all this... we started palm 15 years ago on a palm and an opportunity. Desktops and laptops were too large, expensive, complex. You're not going to build billions of these complex machines, you build mobile computers. But the technology didn't exist, but that was the goal behind Palm. We are a future-of-personal-computing.
But it became clear the smartphone wasn't going to fill that role. It has a keyboard, nice display, except there's a problem. You need a full size screen and keyboard. The smartphone is a truly capable computer, billions of comptuer have one, but sometimes you need to be able to look at that big spreadsheet.
10:32am - Walt asks about folding displays...
Hawkins isn't convinced. You need a big display, there's no technical solution for that. I thought about it, came in Monday morning, I have this great idea! Here's the solution... no, come back later. But I also knew this concept, the mobile companion, is taking that mobile phone and extending it with a large screen and full size keyboard.
10:34am - Although we conceived of it five years ago it only made sense once smartphones started to take off. We only got started on it a couple years ago... soon 200m will get email on their phone, and this is going to be their primary computer. How do you extend that experience? That was the genesis of the Foleo.
10:35am - So I have my Treo, a lot of people say I can go for two days, I don't need a computer... but this extends that experience.
10:37am When you want to introduce a new platform, a new product category, you have to find someone who really wants it, and it grows beyond that. The thing we focused initially on is that email experience. Talking about battery life... it's similar to a cellphone usage model.
10:38am - I want to use it more and more, it's got a nice browser (Opera), you can use it with your phone. You can use it as a little laptop...We're careful not to position it as a laptop... it doesn't have a DVD drive, but it does have a lot of functionality built around the phone, but you're right, this is the smallest... crowd shouting to take it out and show it off!
10:40am - Standing up and discussing the industrial design... ridge on the outside, looks like an ultraportable. It's a laptop form factor, like a pretty thin Japanese machine.
10:41am - Almost no ports on the unit, very clean lines. You open it like a hard-cover book.
10:42am - Less than an inch, weighs about two pounds. Full size keyboard
10:43am - I believe this is the smallest keyboard with a full size keyboard. There are no modes, no sleep, no suspend.
10:45am - Showing the email client. This is what's on your phone, not what's going on at the server, its synced only to your phone. You don't have to set anything up, just use it with your phone -- "you don't even have to tell them you bought one!" You're looking at the email on the phone...
10:48am - On-screen demo time.. starting off pairing a Foleo to a Treo. 755p with two accounts, one with POP3... it has video output, that's nice. So they're going through the initial guided setup routine. Four steps, Bluetooth pairing.
10:53am - At the end press the email button, it grabs all your email, email settings, everything is pulled over. Doesn't worry about the computer, just syncs to your phone and your phone alone. Three pane email interface... showing a new keyboard scroller tool, which your thumbs resting on the space key can use to scroll through messages.
10:55am - Demoing PDF and Office documents -- you can't create a PDF, can't create a regular PPT, but can do simple editing. Word / Excel you can create and edit. "We're running Linux with a graphical front-end; makes it very easy to write apps on it. We have a bunch of developers working in this right now." Boots to Linux kernel. CLI rulez d00d.
10:58am - There's no taskbar, totally instantaneous app switching, no side-by-side windows. No cell radio (duh), the browser doesn't do video ("We think it's too slow... we'll do it in the future.")... but it does do Flash. Demo is over... "As you start using it the browser becomes a reall important part of the product. If I could do it again I'd put a faster processor in it. The video is jerky." What's the price?
11:01am - Can I talk about other things? No... it's available this summer, it's selling for $499 with $100 mail-in rebate. It'll be sold direct and through our stores and rolled out... it gives us the ability to do whatever we want, we can position it any way we want, distribute it any way we want, it gives us an opportunity to do more innovation. There are laptops that are small, 10.4 inch screens, laptops that are $499...
11:03am - Those aren't the same laptop though, who wants to buy the cheap ones? They're not this size... mostly they're just not the same product. We're trying to do this mobile companion thing, that experience you can't get on any laptop. One button instant access to full-screen email. INSTANT. This guy's got a lot of legs to it. This is a Linux appliance with good keyboard, good display, long battery life... it's always a focus on simplicity. People always focus on the fastest processor... like a game machine. But its simpler, it's more fun to use. This is a fun product to use, you just like using it. We support Palm OS Treos, Windows Mobile phones, we want to support BlackBerries, it's all open and easy to do, very little software required to get that to work.
11:04am - We're going to start doing that, we're going to support the iPhone. They're gonna need it. We'd love to do that. Great, thank you.