Palm Gets in Its Own Way With SDK DelayBy Ericka Chickowski | Print
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Palm’s lack of third-party application developer support could well be its Achilles heel in the quest to maintain the company’s survivability and Pre’s relevance to the mobility market.
Palm just made its uphill battle against Apple all the more difficult on itself with its recent announcement that it will delay the public release of the webOS software developer’s kit SDK, also known as Mojo, until the 'end of summer.’
The cellphone maker hoped to score a big hit this month with its release of what it hopes will be pegged as an iPhone-killer, the Palm Pre. Palm experienced a modicum of success with the launch, exceeding analysts’ sales expectations in the first week of sales early this month.
"We believe that between 90,000 units and 100,000 units were sold in the first week," Pacific Crest Securities analyst James Faucette told Reuters in a recent report.
However, even outstripping analyst forecasts couldn’t vault the Pre to the same kind of success experienced by Apple during its debut of the iPhone 3GS last weekend. The market leader experienced ten times as many sales as the Pre, shipping out over one million 3GS units in the first few days of availability.
Unfortunately, if developers can’t deliver a full deck of applications to users, Pre could experience problems. While the use of common technologies such as HTML and CSS certainly simplifies development tasks, application providers have largely been hung-up on the lack of public Mojo availability.
Palm has let a few partners in on early releases of Mojo and just before Pre’s launch Dave Whalen, Palm’s senior vice president of global sales, promised that it was "very close to launch."
But on June 19, Palm spokesperson Chuq Von Rospach announced on the Palm Developer Network Blog that the goal is to roll out the SDK at the end of summer.
"We’ve been working very hard on the SDK and are eager to open access on a wider scale, but the software and the developer services to support it just aren’t ready yet," Von Rospach wrote.
Many developers expressed frustration at the vague delivery dates and delays, complaining that they will ultimately hurt the Pre’s chance of success.
"I’ve built a couple apps using the community methods available without the SDK, but it hasn’t allowed me to get an app in customers’ hands.," wrote Kyle Goodwin, CEO of Palindrome Softworks, a developer based out of Atlanta, in response to Von Rospach’s missive. "You have developers climbing all over themselves trying to help your platform be a success and trying to help your ecosystem grow, but you just keep putting us off with vague promises of releasing Soon or the End of the Summer or Early Access or 'hundreds’ and 'thousands,’ but the longer you delay actually getting the SDK in the hands of developers like myself who are ready, willing, and able to use it to make your platform a success the more of an uphill battle it will be once you finally do."