Palm Attempts to Douse Burning Bridge with Developers

Yesterday a prominent open-source developer laid the smack-down on the webOS App Catalog submission process, but much to Palm’s credit, their director of developer relations, Ben Galbraith, has reached out and is attempting to amend the situation. If you aren’t up to speed, open-source veteran Jamie Zawinski berated Palm’s policies on claiming exclusivity to submitted applications, demanding fees to submit free apps, and end-users’ inability to natively install applications from anywhere other than the App Catalog. Galbraith’s reply was largely apologetic for slow communication, but only went so far to say that they were working on a solution; there weren’t any promises that the tip calculator was going to get in, or clarification about Palm’s ownership rights of applications in the catalog.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still coming to grips with the position of the Palm developer community, but from what I can tell, programmers who have been working with the company over the long term aren’t dealing well with the tightening grip that is gradually becoming the industry standard (thanks in large part to the iPhone’s App Store). When you’re used to being able to write an app and post it online wherever and and install it however you want, having to deal with paperwork and change requests and membership fees is an understandably hard transition. Developers just want to know that they actually own the device without any strings attached, and that is totally reasonable.

The homebrew market is apparently only a half-measure that doesn’t satisfy app creators, mainly because it’s too much of a hassle for end users – it sure would be interesting if Palm included homebrew section in the App Catalog plastered with “We didn’t look at these ones, install at your own risk” disclaimers. On the plus side, Palm is listening to the feedback and is treating their system as a work-in-progress. It doesn’t seem like Zawinski is quite as willing to dialog on the matter to help Palm figure out policies that work, but there has been more than enough feedback from others for Palm to chew on. Considering the explosion of contention surrounding this particular issue, it’s probably a good thing that the premium market didn’t go live with webOS 1.2.

For the developers out there, are you satisfied with Galbraith’s response, or do more dramatic steps need to be taken to get you to write apps for webOS?

  • Kevin

    As you said, this is another (not so good) piece of fallout from the new style of phone manufacturer control that Apple started.

    One of the main reasons to get something other than an iPhone, is to have more choice of apps without a company deciding what you’re allowed to see or use.

    Palm’s future rides not on controlling apps, but allowing more of them.

  • anon

    “It doesn’t seem like Zawinski is quite as willing to dialog on the matter to help Palm figure out policies that work”

    I think he’s historically an ass, but an incredibly smart and almost always correct ass. You don’t listen to him to your detriment.

Back to top ▴