Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
Last week's Switched On identified two groups of early adopters that have damned Palm's featherweight Foleo 10-inch screen unseen. The pricey purists won't give up the capabilities of Windows in an ultraportable, even if it costs them money and battery life, while the mobile minimalists have embraced and adapted to smartphones as all they need even for the excursions at which Palm is targeting the Foleo.
For some of the latter, Foleo may seem like a product that has arrived too late. In the early days, Bluetooth promised to turn cell phones into wireless gateways for laptops and other devices like the Foleo or Nokia N800, but support for such Dial-Up Networking (DUN) features was slow to arrive (and even then carriers sometimes disabled it), as were packets on the wireless networks themselves. Meanwhile smartphones started getting better keyboards and their operating systems improved. Handspring, long since acquired by Palm, did more for the mobile minimalists than any company to date with the Treo, the first smartphone that was widely viewed as successful at balancing PDA functionality and usability.
This is why Palm's "smartphone companion" messaging may be harming perceptions of Foleo. The smartphone installed base has been growing for the past few quarters as prices have come down, but the promise of Foleo is not having two devices. It's about providing the right device with wireless access. This is closer to the message that Nokia -- which has cell phones running deeply through its DNA -- pursued with its Linux-based, Bluetooth-enabled 770 and N800, and what has been responsible for their somewhat warmer reception.