updated 07:10 pm EDT, Thu June 18, 2009
Palm Pre app catalog
In the short period of time since the Palm Pre launch, the company's App Catalog has surpassed 660,000 downloads, according to numbers gathered by Medialets. The number of apps started at 18 on the first day of availability, with 30 titles included by the end of the first week. Most of the content remains in beta for now, except for MotionApps' Classic.
While the numbers may seem modest compared to early performance from competitors, Palm has taken a unique approach with its SDK program. The company chose only a few select developers to work with the SDK before the public launch scheduled for later in the summer.
The App Catalog was launched at the same time as the handset, further limiting initial downloads to the first distribution of devices. Palm reportedly scaled back its first-run production.
The numbers are difficult to compare to the iPhone, which shipped a year before the App Store launch. Customers could choose from over 500 titles when the store went public. Apple's performance will be difficult to beat, considering the iPhone and iPod touch accounted for over a billion downloads by late April. The downloads appear to follow an exponential curve, taking six months to reach 500 million and then doubling in approximately three months.
Analysts disagree on exactly how much revenue Apple has generated from the App Store. Despite the profit estimates based on each download, the wide range of content also serves to drive device sales. Apple's iPhone marketing has highlighted a variety of titles, pushing app sales higher, while the third-party developers are indirectly advertising the iPhone with their media coverage.
Although Palm's initial downloads may be overshadowed by the success of Apple's App Store, a true performance comparison will have to wait until the webOS SDK goes public. The introduction of future webOS-based devices could also serve to increase App Catalog downloads. The company has already inspired many developers to create Pre-compatible versions of popular App Store titles, such as Pandora.