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Palm Extends Effort to Woo Developers

Faced with a limited developer community four months after releasing its first webOS-based device, Palm will offer a two-tier distribution option for those building apps for its platform.

The company said it will continue to offer its Palm App Catalog but starting in December developers can bypass it in favor of direct distribution over the Web, the company announced Monday night on its blog.

Since launching the webOS-based Pre in early June, Palm has failed to keep pace with larger rivals, notably Apple and Research In Motion, which have launched large marketplaces. Also Microsoft on Tuesday launched its long awaited Windows Marketplace for Mobile, where 30 manufactures announced new phones based on the new Windows Mobile 6.5.

"Through a self-certification option, the program will also offer Web-based distribution of apps for developers who wish to leverage existing Web channels to reach their customers directly, according to the posting. For developers that contribute open source code, Palm is waving the $99 program fee.

Palm said it will offer transaction and fulfillment for developers using the online option. Each app will be given its own URL, allowing customers to download the apps to the device. Though the advantage of the Palm App Catalog is that it's bundled on webOS-based devices such as the Palm Pre, developers won't have to go through the certification process, which some say will be a key advantage over Apple's iPhone.

"Palm is hitting Apple where it hurts in terms of providing a more open platform for developers," said Jeffrey McManus, CEO of Platform Associates and a user of the Palm Pre.

"This stems from their Web-based development paradigm as well as the way they're managing the way that apps get into the hands of users. The big question will be how they manage the platform down the road and what they can do to match Apple's user base."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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