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Oct 06

An intense couple of weeks; Palm Developer Program announced

Palm, Tech Add comments


The first couple of weeks at Palm have been a whirlwind. We wanted to get a developer program out there, and it happened in short order! Add to that the fact that I had the fortune to see a beautiful new son come into this world. Phew. I need to get my breath back.

Ben and I were incredibly excited to be able to come out with a program that gives a glimpse of our vision. In a kick-off event at the Mighty club, we got to share the vision, along with the details. For the nuts and bolts read here, but for some thoughts on the vision and key elements, read on:

We told the story of why we are so excited about Palm and the mobile Web as a-whole right now. It feels like there is a real convergence happening between: the fact that the mobile device hardware has become the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, or so it feels; and knowing that browser runtimes have finally become application runtimes. There is a lot of room for both of these technologies to grow, but we have reached a good place already. What’s now happening is that we’re bumping up against the browser sandbox like crazy and we’re all trying to expand out what’s possible on the web. We’re doing this because for all its warts, many of us see in the web the potential to be The Platform that we can use across all of these emerging devices to bring sanity to application development. Imagine a world where you can develop Web applications that you can deploy to a plethora of devices and form factors. We have a real opportunity to make this world a reality, and it will take the entire Web community to make this happen.

What about the program itself?

We announced tonight that we’ve decided to free developers to release and market their applications via the web. When you decide to release your app, it is assigned a URL that you can distribute any way you like. With that URL, the user can install the application on the device. With this mechanism, you skip any review process and get a direct conduit to your users.

But for those who want the catalog experience, we’re investing heavily in the creation of a fantastic application marketplace–one that we carefully manage and organize, and where we review each application. There’s so much innovation that can happen here in terms of providing promotional opportunities for your applications and in making them discoverable, and we’re thrilled to be playing in this space.

We going to charge $50 for each app you submit to this catalog, recognizing its value as a distribution channel and as a friction point to control the flow of apps into it.

We actually want the web to win for distribution. We want to see people innovate in marketing their applications themselves and solving the app discovery problem.

To facilitate that discovery, we’re making raw feeds of all the applications available to help you create your own catalogs of applications. We can’t wait to see what people come up with here, and we’re confident the result will strengthen the app ecosystem.

Open source developer program

Almost every line of code I have written for the last 4 years or so has been open source. The Web itself stands on the shoulders of open source (Mozilla, WebKit, Apache, Dojo, jQuery, etc) and it only felt right that we should have a program for open source developers and projects. If your webOS application is released under open source, the $99 program fee is waived.

This is just the beginning. We are hopeful that a vibrant open source community will grow around the mobile Web and Palm. I would love to see tools and services that help make this happen.

The feedback that we have already gotten has been fantastic. We have gotten great ideas on what we should be doing with the platform itself as well as the program. Not that a vision is set, it is time to build on today’s actions by continuously making good decisions for the community. When Palm brought Ben and I into the fold, they indirectly brought in the Web community that we love to be a part of.

Ok, I have gotten little sleep due to a lovely new baby, and a fantastic new opportunity at work. Now it is time to close the laptop, rest up, and work with you to create some kick arse Web apps for devices.

I want to thank the hard work of my new colleagues at Palm who made this happen in short order, and also the great crowd of Web hackers who came together to help make tonight such a fun event. I can’t wait for the next one, and to keep talking.

What do you want to see from us next? Also, if you are excited about the mobile Web and what we are doing, our group is hiring fast and we would love to have passionate advocates who love the technology as well as working with all kinds of developers!

17 Responses to “An intense couple of weeks; Palm Developer Program announced”

  1. Brad Neuberg Says:

    Awesome event! It was great seeing you and Ben. Thanks for the Palm Pre ;) Already having fun learning more about it.

  2. Michael Mahemoff Says:


    Congratulations on making this happen. I first tried to make a mobile app with my treo, having done palm development previously, and quickly discovered an elegant set of circular links between Sun, IBM, and Palm all pointing to each other and no-one providing any info on how to build the the thing. I figured the future for mobile was the web, not C, and now you guys are finally making it happen.

    Kudos for the open source waiver. It sends the right message.

    This is such a breath of fresh air! TBH all I want to see next at this stage is good execution.

  3. Joe Hewitt Says:

    Congrats on your new son! Great seeing you and Ben tonight. I’m having fun playing with my Pre and flipping through the O’Reilly book right now.

  4. Thomas Fuchs Says:

    Great to see this happening! You guys seriously rock!

  5. Steve Souders Says:

    Very awesome event last night and a stellar crowd. I’ve got my Palm Pre working already and can’t wait to start hacking (and looking at performance!).

    Question: What’s the turnaround time from submitting my app and getting a URL I can distribute myself?

  6. Dion Almaer Says:

    Thanks so much guys!

    @Thomas, looking forward to seeing you in Europe in a month :)

    @Steve, the aim is for it to be as fast as possible of course. We are actively working on that and will put out an SLA that we can hold ourselves too. More soon.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Do you have any plans for a developer device program, to help get devices in the hands of FOSS developers? (For a reference to a similar program, see http://maemo.org/news/announcements/nokia-launches-developer-device-program/ )

  8. Howard Says:

    Sorry to sound a bit negative, Dion, but it seems to me that these days, the mobile world belongs to Apple, Android and possibly Microsoft. Palm, Blackberry and Nokia seem to be headed for extinction, it’s really hard for me to get excited about either or to conjure any energy to write software for either of these platforms.

    Just my 2c.

  9. Brian LeRoux Says:

    Fantastic work guys — I am DYING for a webOS based GSM phone here in Canada!!!

  10. dion Says:


    When I take a look at the mobile world it feels like it is still *very* early indeed. Obviously, the fact that I joined Palm tells you how I feel….. I think there is a lot of life in sector, and I also think that we are at a perfect confluence for the awesome devices and great Web runtimes to come together.

    I want the Web to win in mobile, and I think Palm has a lot to contribute there. There is a lot of work to be done for sure, but it is exciting work that is going to result in experiences that we haven’t fully grokked yet. We will have to win you over in time :)



  11. dion Says:


    Definitely looking into how we could do a developer device program. Thanks for the link…. want to understand both what developers need, and how Palm can accommodate.



  12. Howard Says:

    Hi Dion,

    The thing is: it doesn’t matter how good a job you do there at putting an awesome developer’s program or whether Palm produces a fantastic API or SDK: if the devices don’t sell, this is all just for nothing.

    And currently, Palm devices are not selling.

  13. Eugene Lazutkin Says:

    Cool event, nice set of speakers, great crowd, a lot of information to digest. Thanks for the device and the book! I am looking forward experimenting with it. I hope Palm will do well — developers need users!

  14. Dion Almaer Says:


    Obviously, we need to sell devices.

    We have only had devices out there for a couple of months, and we think things are going well! I am proud of the device experience that we have out there, and there is amazing stuff coming. The team is killer, and I am confident that they can meet the constant challenge.

    Don’t write us off before we have even had a chance to start my friend :)



  15. Howard Says:


    You make it sound as if the race just started, but it’s been on for quite a while and it accelerated in the past three years (thanks to the iPhone and Android) during which Palm has dropped to the bottom spot (or maybe next-to-last if you count Nokia).

    I predict that in one year, you’ll quit and you’ll wonder what you were thinking :-)

  16. Julian Viereck Says:

    Hi Dion,

    wow, just having the blog post in mind that you leave Mozilla and work now for Palm => :( … and see the result of your work just after such a short time => :) awesome!

    You two guys already pushed the web to a good level and now you are in the position to push it even further within shorter time. When I think of what Bespin look like at the beginning of the year and what it looks now I can’t wait to see what you do at Palm within that time. Hope the price for the Palm Pre lowers a little bit within the next months, so that even poor students in Germany can effort it and take a closer look at the WebOs Framework ;)

    See you soon in Berlin.



  17. Howard Lewis Ship Says:

    Hey, why does Ben look photoshopped into the picture?

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