Palm Finally Realizes It Needs To Help, Not Hinder Developers

from the back-to-its-roots dept

We’ve been getting on Palm lately for the widespread mistakes the company made in building out a strong developer community. Despite having had strong developer communities in the past, with the Pre, it seemed like Palm decided to simply copy everything (even all the bad things!) that Apple did with the iPhone app store. It was a terrible case of iPhone cargo cultism, that seemed to assume that if they just copied the iPhone’s every move with developers, things would be just like the iPhone. Now that that’s backfired, it looks like the company has come to its senses. It’s brought in some Mozilla developers and opened things up wide. It’s done away with the fee for developers. It’s openly allowing people to offer their apps directly to Palm users without having to go through an insane and arbitrary approval process. And, the new folks promise this is just the beginning of a much more open offering. It’s about time. This is the sort of thing that Palm should have done before it launched.

In the meantime… there are still other problems showing up, including odd complaints about hidden limits on how many apps you can get through the Pre app store, without any clear response from Palm. So, for every step forward…?

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Comments on “Palm Finally Realizes It Needs To Help, Not Hinder Developers”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Have a little patience

I think that might have worked better for them. Like it or not, Palm’s lack of actual apps is what most people cite as their reason for not picking one up. I know it is exactly my reason. All the apps I want (the reason I’d get a smart phone in the first place) are all only available on the iPhone. I mean, the iPhone has been out for years. Waiting another 6 months to release wouldn’t have done anything to hurt Palm. Waiting until they had an app store and tons of apps too (because that’s what people expect anyway) and the hype would have far exceeded what it was, and it would have lasted far longer too, eventually surpassing the current sales.

Steve Palmer says:


Fucked as it may be in a “perfect world”, The iPhone continues to rock, and lay the other pretenders down.

No one can touch this thing currently. I mean no one. You can fight it all you want, and hate it because it’s beautiful, but there is no denying that it kicks holy ass.

Goodnight and good luck, Palm.

Dirk Belligerent (profile) says:

Re: Man...

Spot the sad, pathetic Cupertino Kool-Aid drinker in this thread. (Hint: He’s the guy who has his identity wrapped up in a hunk of gadgetry that has a 30% dropped call rate considered normal and the worst carrier with the highest monthly charges.)

When’s multi-tasking coming to your toy phone, Bub? Tonight, I was running errands while using my FREE GPS navigation for directions, checking my emails at traffic lights, checking Facebook in a web browser, and (oh yeah) receiving phone calls…ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!

Silly iPhone rabbit…Pre is for grownups!

Steve Palmer says:

Re: Re: Man...

Like I said, you can’t deny the device is kicking ass. You can try, but it doesn’t work. You can call people pathetic, and it still doesn’t work. I giggle when you name-call because it just means you know your own weakness.

Multitasking? I really couldn’t care less. Really. If that’s all you got, then I really feel sorry for you because that doesn’t even rate. The vast superiority of the user interface on the iPhone is something you just can’t buy; well, except from Apple. You certainly can buy it from them, for a small price. But Palm can’t pay enough money – apparently – to get the kind of UI talent that it takes to create a device as clearly game changing as the iPhone.

The iPhone has changed the game and the Pre is just a sad copycat who can’t even copycat effectively.

There is a reason the iPhone is kicking ass and taking names:

It’s just better. A lot better. And you know it.


John Fenderson (profile) says:


It’s an excellent move on Palm’s part. I’m dying to become a Palm customer & developer, but wasn’t going to do it if they ran things like Apple does. It looks like, just maybe, I’ll get to play!

About the “hidden limits,” this screams “bug” to me, and Palm’s response makes it sound like it’s a bug that the tech support folks haven’t been briefed on. I guarantee this will be fixed ASAP, particularly since it hits Palm directly in the pocketbook.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: more facts

Both true. Nonetheless, I’m encouraged by the direction of the change. It should be a lot more, but it’s enough to make me stop writing Palm off.

I’m not sure what the developer fee actually buys. Tools, samples, and docs, probably, not the ephemeral “right” to produce Palm apps. It seems to me that stuff would be fair game for Palm to charge for.

Can these be obtained from other sources? Is the Palm hobbyist community that vibrant yet? If not, then I will be very interested in how Palm reacts when they are. Because they will be.

As to approving the apps, yes, that gives me an icky feeling, too. But it sounds like they’re talking about an automated process to generate a URL, not somebody looking at an app and saying “this one’s OK”. I don’t know where the app is getting stored, but I’m assuming that the developer is storing & distributing it, not Palm, and that Palm is just generating a pointer to it. That’s (barely) acceptable to me, and would be completely acceptable if the algorithm for producing the URL is available.

Lots I still don’t know, obviously, and Palm’s actions are not a full as I’d wish. However, it removes an outright showstopper for me.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: more facts

Yes, but I’ve been looking into all this a bit more. when the article says “[Palm] is not going to be reviewing the apps…” it refers to a promise by Palm. One that they could change their mind about the minute that the spotlight is taken off of them. In other words, “trust us.”

Palm will still be hosting the apps — you’ll still download them from palm. Palm still needs to sign them. If you make one that realy offends Palm, they certainly can remove it from distribution.

Not good enough. This is still a showstopper for me, after all. Now I’m putting all my hopes on Nokia’s N900 and Maemo.

Anonymous Coward says:

Isn’t it interesting that iPhone people don’t care about a feature until Apple tells them to care about it? “Oh, multitasking is a non-issue”…until you need to look up a phone number in your contacts so that you can send it via text message to a friend. If I forget what the number was, it’s as easy as swiping between cards. This is true of anything…looking up an address to send via text or discuss over the phone, finding the name of a song I was listening to earlier in the music player, any of it. I don’t have to remember anything and potentially mess it up, because it’s still right there.
That hardly seems trivial to me.
Claiming a superior UI is a smoke screen. How is it superior if I can’t do things as easily on the iPhone as I can on the Pre?

Steve Palmer says:

Re: Re:

“Claiming a superior UI is a smoke screen. How is it superior if I can’t do things as easily on the iPhone as I can on the Pre?”

But you can. That’s just the point. Sure, you may be able to pick one or two things about the iPhone that you wish were different. We all can. Superiority in a User Interface is not reduced to what *one thing* one device can do better than another, but what the *overall experience* is when using the device.

When you ask yourself that question, the immediate answer is that the iPhone has a vastly superior overall experience. Does it “Multitask”? Well not all the time, but many functions do allow cross pollination of data, like emailing a picture from a website to someone. Also, the copy and paste functionality that recently became available makes life a lot easier.

Bottom line? iHaters love to pick on single issues, and claim that beheads the beast. It doesn’t. Further, most iHaters have NEVER used an iPhone!! I don’t know how you can evaluate a device based on your knowledge of its spec sheet.

Everyone I’ve known who dissed the iPhone had more complaints with AT&T than the device, yet used the AT&T problems as their ammo. And yet, when they actually *used* an iPhone, they changed their mind, and bought one. The overall experience is amazing. Game changing. Fun. So much so that dealing with AT&T was a necessary evil. That speaks volumes as to the iPhone’s superiority.

No, it doesn’t do everything that everyone wants it to do, but it does an amazing job on the stuff it does do. And the UI therefore *is* superior to the Pre and every other device out there. Doesn’t it mean anything that every other smartphone manufacturer out there is desperately trying to mimic and borrow from the iPhone look, feel, and UI?

There’s a reason for that. They know it’s superior and they don’t know how to compete. So they fall into the old, “if you can’t beat ’em” routine. That’s ok. They will always be chasing Apple’s coattails that way. Every time they follow one of Apple’s zigs, Apple will zag and change the game again and they will have to regroup to answer the new situation.

Playing cat and mouse like this isn’t preferable for the cat, but if you can’t innovate, then you do what you have to do to survive I suppose…

No smoke screen necessary. The iPhone rocks. Just get one and use it for a weekend. You won’t want to put it down. If you actually *do* want to put it down, don’t worry…

The resale value on iPhones is sweet.

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