Developer’s fees to access the tools to build webOS apps for Palm’s smartphones are being dropped, according to an official email. More than any other rumor, this confirms HP is serious about Palm’s smartphone future.
When we learned that Palm was going to be swallowed up by tech giant HP, the rumor mills spun up to high speed about the company’s future, both positively and negatively. Would HP merely strip the gems from Palm’s webOS crown, and utilize them in a totally new smartphone enterprise? Would webOS have an unglamorous future as the embedded OS in hardware as uninspiring as printers? Or would the acquisition take webOS into it’s golden era?
The email that’s been circulated to webOS developers is extremely positive in tone, which instantly makes you think more of the “golden era” thoughts. “These are exciting times” it begins, before noting that the February Hot Apps promotion is about to close with 400 developers earning a share of a million dollars of revenue. A new July-starting PDK Hot Apps promotion is then announced, with another million dollar bonus attached. This indicates that webOS is very much a going concern.
Then comes the best bit: “Effective immediately, we’re waiving [the $50 per-app submission] fee and refunding to all developers any $50 fees collected in the past.” Waiving the fees is one clever move, as it neatly switches the business from one which was potentially more expensive to write apps for than Apple’s or Google’s smartphone platforms, to one which actually costs nothing. But refunding the fees is a sign that Palm’s new paymasters, HP, are really keen to win over the hearts and minds of the developer community, and are prepared to put hard cash behind this decision. This can only mean one thing: HP wants a thriving developer community behind Palm webOS–which means its future as a smartphone platform is pretty much assured. But with even an oddball player like Cisco putting out a tablet PC, though, HP had better get moving on incorporating webOS into a slate-format device before the market gets all sewn up.
To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.