updated 11:25 pm EDT, Mon October 5, 2009
Palm spurs open-source apps, web downloads
Palm at a special event tonight staked out its differences with Apple by making key changes to its developer program. The smartphone developer is one of the first after Google to foster open development and said it will dismiss its usual $99 app submission fee for any developer whose webOS apps are open-source. Back end data on app downloads and other sales info will also be available to all developers on request.
Further pressing its point of view, Palm said it would no longer require that all apps get approval to reach the App Catalog. Those who don't want to subject their apps to the process can now post them to the web; Palm will only ask for the app to generate a URL that a webOS phone can use to download the app from its web browser.
The gestures are the offshoot of Palm's hiring two Mozilla team members, both of whom were already advocates of open-source and of loosening restrictions at the iPhone's App Store as well as other mobile platforms. They and supporters consider smartphones computers and have seen restrictions on language, political content and other criteria as "Orwellian."
It also reflects an attempt to spur a long-in-progress app development system. Palm launched its App Catalog in June with about 18 apps and without support for either paid apps or a widely available development kit. The latter was addressed in July, but the company's development community manager Chuq von Rospach tonight said paid apps should only officially become available by early this morning.