Archive for January, 2009
The rumors were correct – Palm announced the Pre at CES on January 9, 2009. Certainly, as announceware, it hits a lot of high notes in terms of hardware design and usability – both factors Palm has always been noted for. But let’s credit Apple here – the iPhone got Palm out of the one-track design mind we’ve seen in recent Palm phone and PDA models.
More importantly – and I believe critically for Palm’s chance of success with this device – Palm also announced that operating system code-name Nova is actually WebOS, based on the same Web 2.0 precepts we see in the application models on Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS. Palm’s calling their SDK Mojo. This promises a greater degree of application portability than we’ve seen on mobile phones (though, of course, this model is limited to smartphones now). Still, it must be said that despite a pretty broad adherence to standards (particularly, HTML5) across WebOS, Android and Apple, it’s still very early days to judge cross-platform portability.
Brighthand has a comprehensive article on WebOS here.
Tantalizingly, Palm discussed additional, non standards-based, features in WebOS/Mojo which target bringing PalmOS-like capabilities to web-based applications. Specifically, a notification system (theoretically supporting push-type applications) and a JSON-based message bus (which sounds suspiciously familiar to the PalmOS brand of inter-application communication). It will be interested to see if Palm opts to migrate these services to open source or standards.
Boy Genius Report has a nice gallery of demonstration screens constructed with MoJo, by the way. Developers will note the non-visual similarities to Apple’s eponymous widget set. However, one clear innovation is WebOS’s unique visual paradigm Palm is calling cards. It will be interested to see how cards map to applications in real (developer) life – again questions about portability arise.
And what of old-style PalmOS applications? Palm has not expanded on this topic too much, but indicates on it’s developer site that PalmOS application data will be migratable to WebOS applications.
This post has been updated here.
Indeed, Palm has a high-profile press event scheduled for today in Las Vegas.
I’m going to reserve judgment until after announcement (I’ll do a separate post), but it’s very unclear what the possible relevance of this device will be. This go-it-alone strategy (that is, using yet-another-PalmOS and browser) is an uphill battle for a company many see as has-been (and one certainly lacking in financial resources to compete with Apple, Nokia and RIM). And, we’ve already talked about Palm building its own application market. Do they have the juice? Who’s going to even know it exists?
Still, to be fair, Palm defined the PDA experience and did a brilliant job with the early Treo phones in moving that experience to telephony. Their design-mind understands battery life and user experience. Their hardware has been solid. And they have the carrier relationships.
But, seriously folks, Apple has stolen this march, with iPhone and the iTunes store. And a modern user experience for both. Nokia will survive and prosper, and perhaps Google can make a dent with Android. But for the rest of the established order, times have changed. The old model is dead. Having a cool device is no longer enough.
AndroidGuys is reporting that Google’s Android Market will start managing “paid applications” in 1Q 2009.
We’ve talked about the proliferation of application markets and certainly we admire our Capitalist market sytem and therefore applaud new entrants who seek to add value. But often that diversity is at odds with simplicity and perhaps more importantly with ease-of-understanding in the marketplace. Google’s Android Market moves beyond the carrier-based model by centralizing a space where users can find useful tools independent of their phone make/model and carrier. The additive power here is, indeed, the power. The brand – Android – is memorable, catchy, and therefore easy to find (on, where else?, Google!). Google can make this a win for customers.
But, Google needed to provide the financial incentive to counter the gold rush toward the Apple iTunes App Store. It will be interesting to see how the “paid app” marketplace links to other Google offerings (Google Checkout, e.g.?) to build a cross-fertilization with Google’s expansive empire (perhaps, by the way, the only such empire that can compete with Apple’s iTunes music and video near-monopoly).
PS: to developers out there: check out PhoneGap. You can build a mobile application using Web 2.0/AJAX technologies, wrapped by PhoneGap into a native application for iPhone and Android (and RIM Blackberry!), and get placement in both the iTunes store and the Android Market. Here’s a great post over at OpenIdeals that shows you how easy this process can be.