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Ny times on palm pre & software app store
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Old 06/23/2009, 08:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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FYI, TAKE CARE, JAY:

June 24, 2009
A Smartphone Heavy on Style
By JENNA WORTHAM
SUNNYVALE, Calif. — By all accounts, Palm’s new Pre smartphone is elegant and powerful. On sale for just a few weeks, it has a crisp touch screen, a pull-out keyboard aimed at e-mail devotees and a new operating system that can manage multiple applications at the same time.

But in a world crowded with iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones, success for the Pre — and possibly the survival of Palm itself — is going to take a lot more than a well-designed device.

These days, it is all about the apps.

Industry experts and programmers say that the company needs to cultivate a system of developers eager to write and publish small useful programs, or applications, for the Pre and its core software, WebOS. Palm also needs to provide an easy way for Pre users to download, pay for and install those apps, similar to Apple’s App Store.

So far, Palm is off to a slow start. Palm’s App Catalog has just a few dozen apps, even as Apple boasts that iPhone users can download 50,000 apps that do everything from receiving baseball videocasts to unlocking a rental car.

The payment system for the Palm app store — important if the company wants to charge for certain programs — is still under construction. And most crucially, Palm has yet to open its software development kit, the main set of tools needed to write apps, to most of the thousands of developers who have expressed an interest in creating programs for the Pre.

As a result, some developers are wary of the new platform, said Ben Gottlieb, the president of Stand Alone, which has been creating fitness, game and calendar applications for Palm devices since 1995 but is focusing its new development efforts on the iPhone.

“The WebOS looks like a great comeback, but there’s a little bit of trepidation there,” Mr. Gottlieb said. “Most Palm OS developers I know have moved over to the iPhone. A lot of us feel abandoned, as the platform was neglected for so many years.”

The competition is not standing still. Last week, Apple upgraded the iPhone’s software and began selling a new, faster model. Research in Motion is supposed to unveil several new BlackBerrys this year, including an update to Storm, its touch-screen device. And HTC and Motorola are expected to introduce phones that use Google’s Android operating system.

The stakes are high for Palm, which once dominated the smartphone market with its now-aging Treo handsets and even had a vast constellation of developers who wrote apps for the Treo’s Palm OS operating system. Since 2007, the company has been steadily losing market share in the United States to Apple, R.I.M. and HTC, according to data from Nielsen Mobile, a research firm that tracks the wireless industry.

If consumers become enchanted with the Pre, Palm could regain a significant share of the smartphone market, said Paul Coster, an analyst with JPMorgan who follows the company.

On the flip side, “if the Pre and WebOS fail, then the company is in trouble,” said Jonathan Goldberg, an analyst with Deutsche Bank.

Mr. Coster estimates that Palm has shipped close to 180,00o devices in the two weeks since the product first went on sale and could reach as many as 2.5 million in the fiscal year ending in May 2010. But that would not be enough to make the company profitable, he said.

Palm is urging customers and developers to be patient. “We’ve never really said that we’re in a race with Apple,” said Derick Mains, a spokesman for the company. Rather than compete with Apple on the volume of applications, “we’re building a catalog of quality apps in the store,” Mr. Mains said.

It is not unusual for software programs to lag behind the release of a new piece of hardware. Apple, for example, did not have an app store or allow third-party developers to write for its platform until nearly a year after the original iPhone went on sale in June 2007.

The concern for Palm is that competition for developers’ attention is much more intense now.

For Palm to thrive, the company will have to convince developers that writing WebOS applications will be lucrative, said Ken Dulaney, a mobile industry analyst with the research firm Gartner.

Palm is still working on the Pre’s software development kit, which developers use to build applications. On Friday, it said the tools would not be widely available until the end of the summer. While the company has granted hundreds of developers access to an early version of the kit, there are thousands of other eager programmers who cannot even begin writing Pre software.

Some developers who were granted early access to Palm’s new operating system said it was worth the wait. “We find it’s the easiest one to develop for,” said Christian Sepulveda, vice president for business development at Pivotal Labs. “It allows for a richer experience, like having a pop-up menu and background processing, which is helpful.”

Mr. Sepulveda’s company developed four of the first programs available for download through Palm’s app store, including an item for Twitter called Tweed.

Greg Stevenson, a long-term Treo user who plans to write programs on WebOS, sees the nascent platform as an advantage. “I’d rather be a big fish in a smaller pond than one app in a catalog of 50,000,” said Mr. Stevenson, who is helping organize a gathering of Pre enthusiasts called PreDevCamp in August.

Palm said building the app store and writing the developer tools is a huge undertaking, and the company would rather do things right than too quickly.

“We’re busy working on scaling the infrastructure. As we have the capacity to ramp up access, that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Pam Deziel, vice president for developer relations at Palm. “The focus for us is putting our heads down and delivering.”
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Old 06/23/2009, 11:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Good article. I wonder if you read it on the NY times App on the pre?
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Old 06/24/2009, 01:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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No, I read it on my desktop computer. I am with V and I am waiting to see, what V's Pre or Pre like phone will be like, before going back to Sprint and their crummy cust. service!
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Old 06/24/2009, 02:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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That's good the guy said WebOS is the easiest to develope for. That goes along with the Pandora developers making Pandora in 4 days compared to several weeks for the iPhone version.
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