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...?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Brendan (profile), Oct 6th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    Good news for them

    Now, can they pass the message along to Google?

    This whole debacle with the "Google Experience" applications and 3rd Party ROMs is pretty disappointing, and has left a bad taste in my mouth. And this is a device I was once very enthusiastic about, and tried to share with everyone I knew.

    Bad move, Google. Bad move.

     

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  2.  
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    Lucretious, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 3:47pm

    brilliant. Opening it up without an approval gauntlet should put this over the top.

    I might even actually buy one....

     

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  3.  
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    Michael Kirkland, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 4:28pm

    Have a little patience

    Palm has never said they intended to follow Apple's walled garden approach. Should they have held the phone back until they had the app store ready to go?

     

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  4.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 6th, 2009 @ 4:32pm

    Letting go is hard to do.

    Letting go of full control is one of the hardest things a company can do. It is also one of the things that is necessary for a product to be successful.

     

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  5.  
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    Steve Palmer, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 4:45pm

    Man...

    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.

     

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  6.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 6th, 2009 @ 4:52pm

    Hooray!

    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.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 5:10pm

    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.

     

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  8.  
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    Milkman, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 5:30pm

    more facts

    1) The developer fee is only waived for open source projects

    2) Palm still has to approve each app before they give you that URL

     

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  9.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 6th, 2009 @ 6:00pm

    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.

     

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  10.  
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    Dirk Belligerent (profile), Oct 6th, 2009 @ 7:06pm

    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!

     

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  11.  
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    Alex Hagen, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 7:26pm

    Re: more facts

    "2) Palm still has to approve each app before they give you that URL"

    Read it again. From the article:

    "And while Palm is providing the URL, it is not going to be reviewing the apps in any way — a clear dig at Apple’s approval process."

     

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  12.  
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    Steve Palmer, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 7:26pm

    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.

    Whee!

     

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  13.  
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    Michael Long, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 9:08pm

    Malware

    "It's openly allowing people to offer their apps directly to Palm users without having to go through an insane and arbitrary approval process."

    Cool. Anyone taking bets on when the first Palm Pre malware hits the streets?

     

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  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 6th, 2009 @ 9:34pm

    Re: Malware

    If you live in fear of malware, then stay within Palm's nice walled garden and only buy from their app store. Problem solved.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2009 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Man...

    Obvious troll is obvious.

     

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  16.  
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    Michael Kirkland, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 12:17am

    Re: Re: Have a little patience

    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

    Without a phone in developer's hands, you're not going to get any apps written.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: Malware

    Don't you mean iPhone's?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 6:28am

    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?

     

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  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 7th, 2009 @ 7:10am

    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.

     

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  20.  
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    Pliny Keep, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Man...

    Redundant Foreigner is Redundant

     

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  21.  
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    Steve Palmer, Oct 7th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    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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