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Thursday, May 31, 2007
Palm Unveils Compact Portable Computer

Palm on Wednesday introduced a compact portable computer to accompany its Treo smartphone, seeking to regain its competitive edge in the crowded high-end handheld device market.

The new "Foleo" is about the size of a hardcover book and, at 2.5 pounds, half the weight of other small laptop computers. It is designed to be used with a smartphone, to help business travelers better manage their e-mail and documents by offering a 10-inch screen, full keyboard and wireless technology.

Palm, best known for personal digital assistants (PDAs) and Treo phones, said it expects the Foleo to eventually work with rival smartphones such as Research In Motion's Blackberry and Apple's iPhone, although it has not discussed technology-sharing agreements with those companies.

Company founder Jeff Hawkins said he expected unit sales of Foleo -- priced at $599 before a $100 rebate beginning this summer -- to be smaller than Treo units sales at first.

The Foleo may signal a shift in focus for Palm, which dominated the market for personal digital assistants (PDAs) after it launched its original Palm Pilot in 1996.

Treo, which combines a phone with its PDA operating system, eventually became the company's signature product with shipments of 2.3 million units in the last fiscal year.

Analysts believe that the new Foleo could be considered as a business tool that will compete with low-cost laptop PCs.

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