On Tuesday, the would-be smartphone survivor -- a rumored acquisition target first for Dell
"Our program will be unlike anything currently available, and has been established to promote a thriving community by giving developers direct involvement in their own success," said Katie Mitic, Palm's senior vice president for product marketing, in a statement. She continued:
"Whether you're looking for immediate distribution or just feedback on early stages of development, this program is built to scale to your needs and finally put you in control of investing in and promoting your business."
Hoped-for-translation to developers: Apple
Palm isn't asking for too much: a $99 annual fee and $50 for each application posted to Palm's App Catalog for the Pre and Pixi smartphones.
But there's also a free option. Those writing open-source applications for webOS won't have to pay the $99 fee, and Web distribution is supplied by Palm.
This is brilliant PR. By dipping itself in open-source waters, Palm is positioning itself as the good guy, a developer's best buddy, the one that "gets it" when it comes to sexy new freemium business models popularized by the writings of Wired's Chris Anderson.
Expect the sheen to last at least for today, and perhaps for several months. But it won't last forever. At some point, Palm is going to suffer through decisions about what to allow on its platform. (Ask Apple about the Baby Shaker sometime.)
And let's remember that Palm hasn't exactly been playing by the rules when it comes to the Pre. The latest update once again syncs with iTunes by fooling the program into thinking that the Pre is actually an iPod; a short-term fix that's almost guaranteed to be broken when Apple updates its software again.
Palm is also the renegade here. Research In Motion
Palm may very well be drinking the open-source holy water -- and it may work for a time, adding thousands of new applications to a platform that badly lags Apple's App Store, Microsoft's