Palm is changing up the development platform for its WebOS based devices. After a short private beta, the new Ares SDK is available to aspiring WebOS developers. While Palm’s Mojo SDK has been available for several months, Ares is different. The Ares SDK is entirely browser-based. That seems only fitting for a platform that relies so heavily on web technologies to create apps.
Palm’s goal here seems to be to get more web developers involved. These people may be well suited to developing for WebOS, but would never go to the trouble of downloading a SDK. Ares endeavors to keep everything one might need in a single place.
There aren’t really any other surprises beyond that. The SDK still won’t allow a lot of complexity in apps. For the most part, you still won’t see software that is as advanced as what we see on Android and iPhone.
Palm hooked a couple of Mozilla’s finest developers to work on the Palm’s WebOS. Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith will leave their posts at Mozilla where they worked with the Developer Tools Lab.
Almaer goes into more detail as to his personal motivations behind taking the position on his blog. Talking about his previous position he says he’d like to “thank the Mozilla community and look[s] forward to continuing to work for the Open Web.”
In the movie Braveheart, there's a pivotal scene involving Mel Gibson and a Scottish battalion where, as William Wallace, he tries to muster some courage from his ragtag company. Face painted blue and half-hysterical, he rallies them with a memorable speech about freedom and love of country. Then, the army proceeds to completely destroy the foreign oppressor in a fight to the bitter end.
In some ways, the current war on smartphone devices could be just as pivotal...and bloody. Companies such as Palm and Nokia have everything to lose if their platforms do not thoroughly crush the competition. Meanwhile, Apple has taken a strong lead with the iPhone, and BlackBerry devices do not appear to be losing any momentum, at least in the business sector. Google has entered the fight with their Android OS, attracting legions of developers to the platform in record time.
All of these operating systems support touch control, rudimentary multi-tasking, rich media, desktop-like Web browsing, and advanced messaging. Yet, only one OS is superior and will ultimately emerge as the victor. It might seem like Apple has already had their Braveheart moment, and maybe there is room for several companies at the top of the pile, but if Windows has taught us anything, it's that a single operating system can become so dominant that every other desktop OS becomes inconsequential. Developers lock into a platform, users get accustomed to it, and that OS wins the war.
We set out to put the major contenders to the test and find out which could become the most dominant. Really, it's too early to call Apple the victor, even though it would be easy to do so with 50,000 apps available and over a million iPhone users. As any technology analyst can tell you, there are actually significantly more Nokia and BlackBerry phones in use today than the iPhone, especially in Europe. The surprise is that the OS that seems to be winning the battle (the iPhone) may not eventually win the OS war in the long run.
The Palm Pre App Catalog currently features only thirty apps and excepting one all others are in beta mode. A lot of people are eagerly waiting for a deluge of Pre apps to overwhelm them. But apps will only dribble in for a few more months as the official SDK (software development kit) isn’t available as yet. Palm has announced it intends to have the SDK fully ready by the end of the 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,” Palm wrote rather apologetically on its developer blog. It is believed that since the Palm Pre doesn’t still have a huge installed base a la the iPhone, many app developers may stick to developing apps for more popular platforms like the iPhone. But who knows the number of Pres sold during the months leading up to the release of the SDK might allow Palm to woo some of the dithering developers.
Steve Ballmer’s luncheon meeting with Yahoo’s chairman Roy Bostock is being seen as a straw in the wind of a possible deal between the companies they serve. The possibility of such a deal has been ostensibly revived with last week’s meeting and the appointment of a new CEO over at Yahoo. But it might not be a great thing for Microsoft, after all.
Microsoft should concentrate on its core business of software, rather then treading Google’s domain – online search advertising, according to Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. In fact, he goes as far as saying that Microsoft should not even be in online advertising being a software company.
He points out that Microsoft’s core business has been ignored for a while and cites Vista and Windows Mobile as emblems of that ignorance. Manjoo finally has some M&A advice for Microsoft: buy Palm for just $1 billion or $2 billion instead of Yahoo - and its plethora of problems - for tens of billions.
Palm’s upcoming Pre is being tipped as the iPhone killer - that everyone is so desperately dying to encounter. Its interface does not appear to be a mere reinvention of the iPhone wheel, and may just be at the vanguard of mobile phone technology. On the other hand, Windows Mobile is a touch quaint compared to other mobile operating systems. So you can see why Microsoft’s unofficial M&A advisor believes that Palm may prove to be a better buy than Yahoo.