12:31 PM

Palm's webOS SDK Seen As Weak On Games

Developers say the SDK for Palm's mobile platform doesn't provide enough hooks into the hardware for high-end gaming like the iPhone SDK does.

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

With the recent release of the Mojo software development kit, Palm is hoping to open the floodgates of application for its Palm Pre smartphone. But early impressions suggest webOS SDK won't be as strong as Apple's iPhone platform for high-end mobile gaming.

Craig Hunter, a mobile app developer with iPhone programs such as Flow and greenMeter, said the webOS platform is currently a disappointment for content creators who want high-powered graphics. Specifically, he said the SDK doesn't allow developers to tap into the OpenGL ES even though the Pre hardware supports this. Additionally, he said the SDK does not give content creators enough access to the raw accelerometer data.

Palm never said the 1.0 version of webOS would be a strong gaming platform. Instead, the company is focusing on drawing Web developers by emphasizing common languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. That emphasis may hurt the company in the short term, Hunter said, because one of the most popular sections of Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch is the gaming category.

"With such amazing software capabilities flourishing on the iPhone, Palm can't afford to wait a year while they make the transition from Web apps to native apps in their SDK," Hunter said in a blog post. "Palm might have had a chance against the 2007 Apple SDK, but not the 2009 version. Not even close. With this limitation, webOS will not be taken seriously by consumers who place importance on games or sophisticated third party apps."

With its strong graphics, touch screen, constant connectivity, and App Store distribution center, some developers believe the iPhone platform could eventually dethrone Nintendo as the dominant mobile gaming platform. Apple's touchscreen device has already drawn the attention of major game developers such as Electronic Arts, Sega, Capcom, and Konami.

Apple still has a long way to go to catch Nintendo . It has shipped about 40 million iPhones and iPod Touch devices while Nintendo has sold more than 100 million DS units.

The iPhone may be your next full-function computer. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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