back to article ‘Priceless’ unique Palm ‘FAILEO’ laptop goes under the hammer

It was the product that was almost immediately dubbed the ‘Faileo’. It was announced but never released. And it can now be yours - if you pony up enough cash to beat other bidders to a one-of-a-kind auction item. Devised by Palm co-founder and chief engineer Jeff Hawkins, the Foleo - to give the gadget its correct handle - was …


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  1. stu 4

    offtopic: priceless

    When I was a kid I always got confused between priceless and worthless.

    now I know they are generally the same thing.

    however, hope the bidding goes up as for a good cause.

  2. James 51 Silver badge

    First thought was that looks like a psion netbook.

  3. Simon Harris Silver badge

    If only...

    They'd had the Asus Eee girl to promote it!

  4. Cuddles Silver badge

    "But he turned out to be very wrong by insisting: “There are times when people need a large screen and full-size keyboard. As smartphones get smaller, this need increases. The Foleo completes the picture, creating a mobile-computing system that sets a new standard in simplicity.”

    Pundits and punters disagreed."

    In what way was he wrong? As you note in nearly the next sentence, that's exactly what people wanted and is exactly what tablets do. The Foleo may have sucked, or simply been unlucky, but the idea was absolutely solid.

    1. Piro

      Also, see the march of ever larger phones.

      The product wasn't based around an incorrect idea. I just have a feeling the market wasn't quite clamouring for such a thing yet, and looking at the specs, it's pretty underpowered. Then again, even the first eeePCs were underpowered.

      They were pretty crap too, but the things going for Netbooks at the time were: incredibly low cost, and the rise of web services.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        THe "Fooleo" was a wrong idea because it needed a Treo smartphone to connect to the Internet and run a custom Linux with limited capabilities - and few applications. The attempt to run Linux on netbooks failed as well (but for Linux aficionados), while most users preferred to run Windows (or MacOS).

        Anyway, the "Fooleo" was thought as an extension to the smartphone, not a fully standalone devices. Netbooks, Ultrabooks and tablets are full stand-alone devices, they don't need you thether your smartphone for any task - and unluckily smartphones are getting bigger - too big - not smaller.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > The attempt to run Linux on netbooks failed as well (but for Linux aficionados), while most users preferred to run Windows (or MacOS).

          A brief history of netbooks:

          * Netbooks running Linux released

          * Huge consumer interest and large numbers shipped

          * Windows begins to replace Linux on netbooks

          * Netbook sales tank

          So much for people wanting Windows rather than Linux

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Netbook sales tanked due to tablets, not Windows. Do you have number of how many netbooks shipped with Linux and how many with Windows? Many people needed on netbooks the same software they were running on their desktop and laptops (especially Office, but not only) - and that often meant Windows software, not Linux.

            I saw many people looking at first notebooks, and saying "ah, it runs Linux? What a pity, I'd buy one if it run Windows".

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Dear Linux fanboys, most people don't care at all about the OS their machine is running. They care about the application they use and don't want to learn more than one OS. If they're used to Windows and Office, they'll want Windows and Office unless the device is nice enough (iPads...) to learn a new one.

              You can keep on downvoting with no reason, but it won't change the truth - Linux is not an OS for most users, and will never be. Windows and OSX will keep on being users' favorites - sometimes you should get out of basements, take a breath of fresh air, and look at people outside IRC and Linux forums...

              1. Philip Storry

                Close, but no banana.

                Dear LDS,

                You're so tantalisingly close to the truth, yet haven't quite got it.

                Your argument, after all, can also apply to future versions of Windows/Mac OS X. Should their creators ever be so stupid as to drastically change the interface, that is.

                (Silence at the back! Wait 'till I've finished, as that's not my point!...)

                The truth is that familiar interfaces are nice, but as you indicate with your tablet example, people are always willing to change if the benefits are clear.

                What people *really* want is functionality.

                After all, how many Mac users have a copy of Office? By many people's logic, they should. Office is irreplacable, and LibreOffice/OpenOffice just aren't good enough!

                Yet I see more Macs with iWorks than Office on them...

                Most PCs come with a trial version of Office these days. And most people don't want to pay 100 bucks for it at the end of the trial. Show them LibreOffice/OpenOffice with 100 of their bucks in one hand, and a copy of Office with a receipt for 100 of their bucks in the other, and they soon decide how valuable Office really is to them.

                And yes, I have seen people pick Office instead of the 100 bucks. Usually for business reasons. But then, I also see small businesses just using Google Apps instead.

                And Google Apps shows the real direction for functionality these days. Web browsers just won't be reasonable old chaps and stop their pace of development. They insist on rudely and uncouthly becoming more and more capable. It's just not cricket!

                Remember Microsoft Works? Not the standalone abomination, but the Word/Works/Autoroute/Other bundle from the early 2000's? I knew people who loved that. Mostly for Word and Autoroute - that made their computer useful to them. These days a browser with bookmarks to Google Docs/Office 365 and Google Maps/AA's website/RAC's website could do the same. For free.

                What software do people really want from their computer so that they can do what they want to? I'd venture the list looks a little like this:

                1. A web browser.

                1a. Email. (Maybe via browser, maybe via IMAP/POP3 See 1).

                2. Basic Word processing.

                3. Plays music. (Maybe via a web browser? See 1.)

                4. Plays video. (Maybe via a web browser? See 1.)

                5. Allows basic photo management/editing/sharing.

                6. Using a spreadsheet as an overgrown table creator, and, in a very small minority of cases, using some basic formulas - but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for that last bit to happen.

                7. Abusing DTP to create godawful invitations to equally godawful events, and brain-melting newsletters about said godawful events - newsletters that are so bad your hamster will bite you for forcing it to **** on their shredded remains.

                8. Porn (see 4).

                I hesitated before putting 6 and 7 on. Many people will never actually use a spreadsheet, despite being aware it's there. Most home DTP functions are basically templated, and could probably be done in most word processor packages anyway.

                The basics of everything on that list can be done in a browser if necessary. And other things I've probably overlooked.

                So Microsoft's biggest fear is that customers - or on their behalf, OEMs - begin to ask why Office costs them 100 bucks when they use it so little. Or why Windows adds 20 to 30 bucks to the cost of a device, when all they're going to do is use a web browser that's free anyway.

                At that point, Linux looks much more attractive to OEMs, and I'm sure many of them have been hinting at that since the netbook era.

                None of this affects Apple as much. They're a luxury brand. It actually helps Apple, in a way - knowing that you don't need Office but just need to write simple documents occasionally makes a purchase of iWorks easier.

                The tablet/phone markets are a little different, partly due to a richer platform experience due to well thought out APIs and partly due to a much lower cost per app, which distorts things a little.

                But sticking to the fundamental "how do I do this?" rather than "how do I run XYZ?" shows much the same results - lots of movement towards web-based services. (A shocking number of apps seem to be little more than wrappers for mobile web sites!)

                When you wrote "Linux is not an OS for most users, and will never be", you could have put Windows 8 in there. Or even Mac OS X. And you'd still be correct.

                Because whilst a Linux distribution comes with plenty of software - free, curated, easily installable - all it needs to satisfy 90% of the needs of 90% of consumers is a web browser.

                Most users don't need an OS, except as a bootstrap to a web browser. To them, Windows is what DOS was for the Windows 95 developers - a handy way to start the ball rolling after the power button is pressed. A minor step on the way to the final destination.

                Sure, some older folks are stuck in their ways. (And many more aren't.) But by the time today's kids can afford to buy a copy of Windows or Office with their own wage packet, they'll already have gone through multiple versions or alternatives, and learned that they don't need it if they can run a web browser for free.

                Welcome to the future. Feel free to bookmark it in case you need to visit again...

                (Who am I kidding? Just type "the future" in your address bar, and it'll pop up! Remember using bookmarks instead of Google and local browser history? How quaint!)

      2. Tim Walker

        "Even the first eeePCs were underpowered": out of the box, I'd probably agree with that, but I wasn't prepared to settle for that state...

        I've owned an Eee 701SD since 2009 (it's humming away on my desk here as I type), and it's still going strong, except that there's no battery so I'm running it off AC power. (Nothing wrong with the battery bay - the battery just wore out, as they do, and I haven't got around to buying a new one.) I upgraded the RAM to 2GB and installed Arch Linux on the machine (choosing Xfce and other lightweight applications), and the Eee is pretty nippy - choose your OS and apps carefully, and it can perform quite acceptably for your usual Web surfing, wordprocessing and so on.

        When my 701 hops off to Silicon Heaven (yes, with all the calculators), I wouldn't mind an ARM netbook if I can find one that'll take Arch/ARM - maybe that Samsung Chromebook?

    2. Robert Grant

      Yeah agreed. He was bang on the money.


    Honestly, the Foleo came too late

    If it had came in 2001, in the middle of my wireless Internet research, I would've gobbled it up hook, line and sinker. Nevermind that I was also a diehard Linux fanboi at that time.

    My Improvise in that period was connecting my cellphone to a Sony Clie UX50. Granted that it was a seriously underpowered device, but it served it's purpose well and lasted me until my graduation day.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "The attempt to run Linux on netbooks failed as well (but for Linux aficionados), while most users preferred to run Windows (or MacOS)."

    Really, Linux itself wasn't the biggest problem. The problem: (per wikipedia) 416mhz ARM, 128MB RAM, 256MB flash (with 126MB available for the user.) It wasn't some full distro, it was Opera, a phone-sync-only E-Mail app, PDF viewer, and office suite (after all, only 130MB of software on it..). The price was just a little too high with a little too low specs I think.

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Dear Linux fanboys, most people don't care at all about the OS their machine is running. They care about the application they use and don't want to learn more than one OS. If they're used to Windows and Office, they'll want Windows and Office unless the device is nice enough (iPads...) to learn a new one."

    You contradict yourself by saying they don't care, then that they want Windows. Also what Philip Story said.

    What I'm finding happening is... People have computer where XP or Vista install got completely wrecked (ocassionally 7) and they have no install media. If there's no recovering it, I'm like "no I don't have copies of Windows lying around. It costs". I suggest they try buying media from the vendor (Dell or HP or whoever), if they can get a media copy from the vendor for $20 or something they generally do it. Otherwise, they plan to replace the computer in a while and want to do something until then. I've thrown Ubuntu (set to Gnome Classic on and flash and video codecs installed*), and it's a little different than Windows but less different than Windows 7 or 8 are, people don't have much trouble getting used to it. Generally they decide to put off buying that new machine since the old one is suddenly working great.

    *If you don't install flash and codecs, the first time it needs them, firefox or the movie player pop up a nice friendly box saying it needs a codec, click next an it'll install it for you, but it's even easier to just install them ahead of time and not do that 8-).

  8. Nym

    do you perhaps

    Have a Lewis Page? *that was an intentional pun

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