Palm Responds to App Catalog Critics

Oct 09, 2009

Palm has announced that it will simplify its developer program for the Linux-based Web OS behind its new Palm Pre smartphone. The device maker is thereby responding to hefty criticism about its App Catalog.

That apps and applets have become the business model for the increasingly sophisticated smartphones was already well demonstrated by Apple and its iPhone-related App Store. Mobile phones equipped with Google's Android platform have adopted the same model. Even Nokia has given its smartphones in the OVI market access to free and cost-based software in its Symbian systems. That Palm is now using the same strategy with its App Catalog doesn't come as a surprise. Palm is asking $99 per year and $50 per application for the service. The revenue is then split 70/30 with the participating applications, Palm keeping 30.

It was mainly some additional restrictions to which developers objected, as described quite clearly by Jamie Zawinski in his blog. Palm prevented him as App Catalog contributor from distributing his applications (which he provided free to the catalog) on his own website. He alludes to a "hoop I would not jump through" in the Palm requirements: "You can only distribute your app via the Palm App Catalog. Do not make your app available on your website or anywhere other than the App Catalog."

Palm has now responded to appease what it considers important contributors to its market. In its announcement, it includes a "Distribution on the web" item that provides Palm developers who wish to promote their apps outside the App Catalog a special URL linked from the catalog.
Palm would take on certification and, if desired, the full service with billing and transactions. Developers could then use their own marketing resources without being fully tied to the catalog. The process might take a while, however. Palm is "officially opening the doors" to the program starting in December. Zawinski meanwhile is skeptical and released a blog update on the App Catalog "nightmare."

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