Palm Pre Sees 1 Million App Downloads

The Palm Pre's App Catalog is far behind Apple's App Store, but Palm could see a flood of interest once its SDK is released.

Palm 'Pre' Smartphone

Palm 'Pre' Smartphone
(click for larger image)

Palm Pre users are eagerly adding mobile applications to their smartphones, and have downloaded more than a million apps, according to data from Medialets.

The touch-screen Pre was launched earlier this month as an exclusive Sprint handset, and analysts estimate that more than 150,000 units have been shipped. One of the most appealing features of the handset is the webOS operating system, which ties together content from multiple Web services into a finger-friendly interface.

While the handset generally has received good reviews, one complaint is that the App Catalog doesn't offer a large selection of mobile programs, particularly compared to Apple's App Store which has over 50,000 programs and 1 billion downloads. It may be a bit unfair to compare the two though, Medialets said, because Apple has had more than a year to build its portfolio of applications.

Medialets compared when the iPhone hit the million-download mark and found the App Store had more than 16 times the number of programs than Palm's App Catalog. Additionally, for the same period in the iPhone's lifecycle, Apple had more than 26 times the potential audience than Palm does.

While webOS may never catch up to the App Store in sheer numbers, Medialets said the pace at which Pre users download apps could be an encouraging sign for Palm.

"Still comparing at the 1 million mark, the average Palm Pre user had downloaded 26 times the number of apps that iPhone users had, and the average app in the App Catalog experienced 16 times the number of downloads that apps in the App Store had experienced," Medialets wrote in a blog.

Palm also hasn't released an official software development kit, which limits how many developers can create programs for the App Catalog. The company is expecting to have this out by the end of summer, and the operating system's reliance on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other Web standards could make it an attractive target for Web developers.

Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).

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