Palm just waved its magic wand and abracadabra'd the Mojo Software Development Kit into public reality. It's the software that developers have been waiting for, and it could turn the Pre into something much more interesting.
Palm kept the SDK close to its chest, and chose to work with only a restricted number of carefully-selected developers to get a couple handfuls of apps ready for the Palm Pre's much-anticipated launch. That strategy may be why so few Palm Pre apps appear to have been downloaded thus far, and it may play into stilted sales figures for the Pre. Palm's Web page for the kit bears the welcome words "We know that a thriving ecosystem is critical to the success of WebOS" and that at least shows someone at Palm--Mike Abbott, SVP of Apps--has their finger on the pulse. But it still bears the question: "What the heck took you so long, Palm?"
Though Palm's blog mentions that 1.8 million apps have been downloaded from its beta App Catalog, diluted over the many weeks the phone's been on sale, that equates to not such an exciting figure. Without Mojo there could be no larger population of the Pre's app store, and no app halo-effect to boost sales of the Pre and to chatter on about in press releases. Apple knows this, and just celebrated its App Store first birthday with a bunch of amazing stats--1.5 billion downloads of 65,000 apps from 100,000 developers.
And here's another surprising thing: The Mojo SDK may now be out there in the wild, and Palm is expecting many developers to join the ranks of "thousands" who've participated in the SDK's early-access program. But Palm's blog then has this bizarre phrase: "the App Catalog submission process will be opened to all developers beginning this fall." In other words, the Phone is out, the App Catalog is open, the SDK is now out, but Palm isn't taking the opportunity to seize the day (a little late, towards sunset...but, still) and take the fight to Apple as soon as possible. Because though some new apps are "in the pipeline" and you can now develop any old app for the Pre if you like, there's nowhere to submit it to officially until maybe September. Can someone explain Palm's thinking to me?