06/02/2010, 10:04 PM
This is not much of an article, but I always look for anything, Pre and webOS to post.
Take care, Jay
WebOS Apps Stand Out Because There’s Less Competition
By Brian X. Chen, June 2, 2010, 4:45 pm
WebOS Apps Stand Out Because There’s Less Competition | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
Hungry to earn a buck, many programmers are making apps for the two leading mobile platforms: Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android OS. But a few developers say they feel luckier playing with the underdog: Palm.
“I made some of the crappiest apps for the Pre, and Palm is giving me $1,000 for each,” software programmer Pete Ma (right) bragged to Wired.com last week during a developer conference, adding that each of his five apps took less than an hour to code.
Ma submitted five apps to Palm’s Hot Apps challenge, a contest designed to attract developers to the comparatively diminutive WebOS platform serving apps to Pre and Pixi customers. The incentive? A $1 million prize pool rewarding up to 221 apps based on their ranking. The top-ranked app will win $100,000, the next 20 apps will earn a $20,000 reward, and the subsequent 200 apps will win $1,000 each. Currently, the top-ranked app in the competition is Pandora, a popular music-streaming service. Ma says his apps are in the running for the smallest of the awards.
Though many credit Palm for pioneering the smartphone, the company has struggled in the mobile space for the past few years. And as an app platform, Palm’s WebOS barely registers. Apple’s iPhone currently leads the app race with a massive 200,000 apps, and Google’s Android platform follows with 50,000 apps. Palm’s WebOS App Catalog, by comparison, serves about 2,800 apps.
A Palm spokesman estimates that there are more than 1 million WebOS users total. That number is pitiful compared to the 90 million iPhone OS users (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad customers). Meanwhile, Google says 100,000 Android phones are activated every day.
Given Palm’s smaller customer base, it’s unlikely we’ll hear phenomenal success stories where WebOS developers generate six-figure incomes with a hot-selling app. By contrast, a few lucky iPhone App Store developers have struck it rich. However, HP’s acquisition of Palm may lay the groundwork for a bigger customer base, which could eventually lead to more serious dough. An HP exec recently said the company is working on a WebOS-based tablet due out in October.
Before the platform gets bigger, Ma encourages developers to get an early start on WebOS, when there’s less competition. In fact, Ma laughed at the admittedly poor quality of his apps. One app called Fantasy Chat, a jokey program to chat with a robot, is ranked number 211, putting Ma in range to win $1,000. Another app, Playboy Covers, currently ranked 240, is on track to win Ma cash by next week. Three other apps will likely hit the top 221 soon as well, according to Ma’s estimations, based on average downloads.
The cash prizes are only a temporary incentive, as the contest ends June 30, but Ma said the quick escalation of his apps in the WebOS App Catalog are a testament to the potential to succeed in a store with fewer competitors.
“People should give WebOS a chance,” Ma said. “It’s a great platform if they’re lacking downloads on either Android or iPhone. Nobody was downloading my Android app.”
A Palm representative said the purpose of the Hot Apps challenge was not only to increase visibility of the WebOS platform, but also to raise awareness of the flexible tools that Palm developers can use. For example, the Palm’s Plug-in Development Kit allows people who have already coded iPhone apps with C++ to easily port their apps over to WebOS. So even if coders are already invested in the iPhone OS platform, they can make a simple tweak to their app and share it with the WebOS audience as well.
Palm offers a 70-percent cut to developers for each app sale — the same as the App Store’s model. Also, developers have the choice between serving their apps through the official WebOS App Catalog, which involves undergoing an approval process similar to the App Store’s, or they can self-publish their apps on the web.
“What we’re hoping to do is give developers a choice in how they develop and a choice in how they distribute their application,” the spokesman said.
The Los Angeles Times offers a news app for WebOS, and developer Ken Schwencke said he enjoyed the simplicity of the platform. However, he said he was wary of investing more in the WebOS app in the near term, despite HP’s pending acquisition of Palm.
“I’m excited to see what HP has in store for WebOS, but honestly, I’m cautious about spending more development time on the app right now given the uncertainty surrounding WebOS’s future,” Schwencke said. “I’d say if you’re developing a suite of apps on other platforms, it’s worth it — if nothing else for the exposure and the good will it will generate with users.”.