One day after I get back from Burning Man, I hear that Palm has canceled the Foleo. Though the product hadn’t even shipped yet, it was in such a late stage of development. Palm made the right decision, but the announcement still comes as a shock to me. Very few people were going to buy the Foleo, and it’s better for Palm to kill the product before the market killed it. According to CEO Ed Colligan, the company found itself in a difficult position trying to support two platforms — three if you include the non-smartphone PDA handhelds they sell.
“In the course of the past several months, it has become clear that the right path for Palm is to offer a single, consistent user experience around this new platform design and a single focus for our platform development efforts. To that end, and after careful deliberation, I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering our next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market. We will, of course, continue to develop products in partnership with Microsoft on the Windows Mobile platform, but from our internal platform development perspective, we will focus on only one.”
The wording of the announcement is similar to the press release that Apple issued when the Newton was canceled back in 1998:
“This decision is consistent with our strategy to focus all of our software development resources on extending the Macintosh operating system,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s interim CEO. “To realize our ambitious plans we must focus all of our efforts in one direction.”
History may not repeat itself, however. Palm, in its various incarnations and spinoffs, has not done a good job of delivering anything but incremental product updates for several years now.