Setting webOS apps free.
Despite the scarcity of third-party offerings available in Palm’s webOS app store so far, I’m remain bullish regarding the smartphone maker’s ability to attract developers to its platform. Although I’ve said right from the start that doing so will play a major part in making or breaking the company’s second coming.
Today, Palm made a number of announcements after listening to feedback from the community, the biggest of which is that developers will be able to ‘self-sign’ their apps and distribute them via the Web, and in doing so, bypass any formal approval process. It’s not a complete free-for-all unlike what is possible on the Google-led Android as Palm will still own and issue the URL used for web distribution but the lack of an approval process, if developers choose to go this way, will enable more traditional online marketing techniques for third-party apps and speed up beta testing, something that is the bane of iPhone developers.
The traditional app store – on deck – route still remains an option, with developers paying a per-app fee for inclusion in the store and all apps being vetted by Palm. I suspect most developers will utilize both web-based and official app store distribution, with the former supporting a release-early-and-often development process.
However, web distribution is only the first play by Palm to reposition itself as the most open mobile platform or certainly in comparison with Apple. Next up is a direct appeal to Open Source developers.
… in appreciation of what the open source movement has contributed to the web, Palm will waive the $99 program fee for developers interested in distributing open source Palm webOS apps to the web. If the source of an app is available to the public under one of the commonly accepted licenses, it will be eligible for this program.
That’s perhaps unsurprising, with ex-Mozilla duo Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer recently heading up Palm’s developer relations.