Palm Opens WebOS Developer Program, Launches New Phones

Palm's WebOS developer program is now open to all developers interested in participating. The company also announced new phones and new carrier support.

Palm has announced that its WebOS developer program is now open to all developers interested in participating. The company also announced new phones and new carrier support.

At a press event at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, Palm officials said any developer can now go to the Palm Developer Center (, sign up, and start developing and distributing applications for WebOS devices. Palm showcased its developer program and tools at CES and announced a $1 million developer Hot Apps bonus program for the Palm WebOS developer community.

"We're thrilled to open the doors of a program that offers mobile developers unparalleled freedom and choice in how they distribute and market applications," said Katie Mitic, senior vice president of product marketing at Palm, in a statement. "The combination of our highly accessible Web-based platform, groundbreaking integration opportunities and open, flexible distribution program makes Palm WebOS the best place for developers to create the next generation of innovative mobile applications."

To kick off the official opening of the Palm applications ecosystem, Palm is launching a $1 million Hot Apps bonus program for WebOS developers. The program, which runs Feb. 1 through May 31, 2010, is open to developers worldwide and will award $1 million to the most successful applications distributed during this timeframe. The developers of the top free and paid applications each will earn a $100,000 bonus; in addition, 40 developers will receive $10,000 (20 each for free and paid), with 400 developers awarded $1,000 (200 each for free and paid). Awardees will be notified in June. Details are available at

The Palm developer program is designed to promote a thriving environment for all developers to create, distribute, promote and monetize the delivery of applications to Palm customers. It extends the Web orientation of Palm WebOS, providing opportunities for developers to grow their businesses by leveraging the Web as a promotional channel for applications.

Moreover, the company said the Palm developer program is designed to help developers promote their work and ultimately drive application sales and downloads. Developers receive a 70/30 split (developer/Palm) of gross revenues generated through sales. The membership-based program has a $99 annual fee, which will be waived for developers who opt to distribute open-source Palm WebOS apps on the Web. The program provides a sales transaction and fulfillment service for developers.

The Palm developer program offers developers two ways to get their applications to market:

  • Distribution in the Palm App Catalog: A link to the Palm App Catalog is built into every Palm WebOS device. Applications distributed in the Palm App Catalog will be subject to review by Palm, and developers will pay a per-application fee of $50. Applications approved in this program will have immediate distribution to the most targeted application promotional channel on WebOS devices.

  • Distribution on the Web: For developers who wish to promote their applications exclusively online, Palm will provide just the sales transaction and fulfillment service. Every app will receive a unique URL, allowing developers to freely promote their applications online and enabling customers to download and install the application directly from the cloud to their phone using Palm's unique over-the-air process. This distribution option offers a fast self-certification process as well as the ability for developers to control the distribution and promotion of their applications using the online marketing vehicles they already have and creating new ones as they see fit.

In addition, a special beta channel allows developers to easily expand their testing program and iteratively improve their products.

Moreover, Palm officials said the company is opening up the database of WebOS applications data, with feeds of app descriptions, ratings, stats, screen shots and more to app developers and the broader Web community to leverage the Web as a discovery channel. This open system will enable the creation of app directories, ranking mechanisms, communities and more around the rapidly growing base of WebOS applications, Palm said. These feeds will include a unique application URL for each application that can be promoted through Web channels for users to request over-the-air distribution of that application to their device, the company said.

"We're leveraging the power of the Web to give developers as much freedom as possible," added Mitic, also in a statement. "The Web is a large and efficient channel for connecting consumers to the content and applications they want most, so it only makes sense to leverage those tools and community to enhance discovery of Palm applications."

In addition, since the announcement of the program in October, Palm has provided details of two new developer tools that are designed to significantly lower the barriers to mobile application development. Palm's press release on the developer program describes these tools as:

  • The Palm WebOS Plug-in Development Kit (PDK) extends the Palm WebOS Software Development Kit (SDK) with a set of tools, documentation and APIs that let developers write plug-ins for their WebOS applications. With the PDK, developers can seamlessly integrate C and C++ code into their WebOS apps, enabling new functionality such as 3D games. At the CES event, Palm announced the availability of 3D games built by leading developers with early access to the PDK. A public beta version of the WebOS PDK is scheduled to be available to all developers in March.

  • Project Ares, released as beta in December, is the first complete set of integrated mobile development tools hosted entirely in the browser. Featuring a drag-and-drop interface builder, a robust code editor, a visual debugger and built-in source control integration, Ares dramatically lowers the barriers for Web developers to jump into mobile development and makes building WebOS apps even easier and faster than before. Ares aims to enable the next-generation mobile developer workflow, letting developers move quickly and seamlessly from editing in a browser to debugging on a device and selling applications in Palm's App Catalog or on the Web.