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6/22/2009
04:57 PM
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Palm's WebOS SDK Not Coming For Months

Despite its use of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other standard Web coding, developers still need the tools from Palm in order to create official apps that can take advantage of the hardware.

Palm Pre smartphone
(click image for larger view)
Palm Pre smartphone

Developers looking to create applications for the Palm Pre will have to wait awhile, as Palm said its software development kit likely won't be available until the end of summer.

Palm intentionally built its webOS operating system to be developer-friendly, as it enables content makers to create mobile apps using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other standard Web coding. But these developers still need an SDK in order to create official apps that can take advantage of the hardware.

"We've been working very hard on the SDK and are eager to open access on a wider scale, but the software and the developer services to support it just aren't ready yet," Palm wrote on its developer blog. "Our goal is to make the SDK available to everyone by the end of summer."

The company has given its SDK to certain parties, such as the Internet-streaming company Pandora, and Palm said it wants to build a strong ecosystem before it's opened to all comers. Some developers are frustrated with this approach, though, and they may look to other means of getting apps on the Pre.

"With the SDK, even an immature one, we would be developing within Palm's desired process and with their technology stack," reads a reply from Steve on Palm's developer blog. "Without the SDK, we will roam around the phone at the OS level … and start doing whatever we want."

Mobile apps have become an increasingly important part of a smartphone platform, mainly because of the success of Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple's store is the unquestioned leader in the mobile app market, but rivals like Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, webOS, and Windows Mobile have launched, or will soon launch, a similar way for customers to browse, buy, download, and install apps over the air.

Once its SDK is released, Palm will still face a difficult battle in vying for developers' attention because Apple's platform has an installed base of more than 40 million, and the App Store has more than 50,000 programs. It may take many years for webOS to gain that type of user base, but the company said it should be able to draw in content creators because the platform makes it easier for Web developers to make apps even if they don't have a lot of experience in the mobile space.


InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the use of business software on smartphones. Download the report here (registration required).

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