Palm's takes next steps with webOS, Mojo SDK

Palm has taken its next steps to re-invent itself via webOS, which will appear first in the upcoming Palm Pre. The release date and pricing for the Pre is still unannounced. Both Palm and Sprint are betting big that the new smartphone and its underlying OS platform will be a hit. At the Web 2.0 Expo last night, Palm announced three new steps. (Our full news story is online.) 1. It's expanding somewhat the "early access" program for the Mojo SDK. You still have to apply, and Mojo won't be generally available until "later this year" (nothing more definite than that). This is clearly a balancing act for Palm: getting the SDK into the hands of both PalmOS developers and those attracted by the new webOS platform as fast as possible, while making sure the tools and OS are as solid as possible with an effective developer support infrastructure. If they can make similar periodic milestones going forward, I bet they can carry this off. The one thing that's disappointing to me is I'm not seeing much evidence that Palm is leveraging the communitarian ethic enabled by the Web. For the most part, they still seem to acting solely as a traditional platform vendor. But that's my view as an outsider: any developers in the early access program who want to chime in? 2. Palm also revealed a plan to offer a series of cloud-based services that apparently will be tightly integrated with webOS and applications written for it. The first one is a subscribe-publish messaging service based on the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) MMS uses a subscribe/publish model: users and applications “sign up” for data or content. When changes are published on the cloud servers, they become available automatically via notification to the subscribers. That model has almost instant applicability in a wide-range of online applications and services: instant messaging, presence, multi-user chat, content syndication, and general routing of XML data. Apple is only now announcing a somewhat similar service for the iPhone, a push notification service unveiled in the recent preview of the 3.0 version of the operating system. Using this notification service, iPhones can send or receive voice and text alerts, and what Apple calls "badges" or widgets attached to an application that show a change of state such as an unread mail message. But that sounds far less comprehensive, and less ambitious, than what Palm has planned with the Mojo Messaging Service. Instead of using the Web simply as a means of access (for example, to a catalog of applications like Apple's App Store), Palm from the outset seems to be blending the Web into the handset itself. The Palm Synergy application demonstrated on the Pre is a good example of this approach: it combines contact information from the handset and from various online Web accounts to create a more comprehensive database of usable information. 3. Software developer MotionApps is creating "Classic," a webOS-based emulator that will, apparently, run most legacy PalmOS applications unchanged on the Pre. Details are extremely sparse on the Website, but the vendor is claiming that if you've been using a Treo 700p, your existing applications will run about two times faster with Classic on the Pre. That's a smart move by Palm for two key communities: existing users, who will now be encouraged to trade-up to the Pre because they can take along existing Palm applications that they currently rely on; and PalmOS developers, who will still have a market with the Pre and possibly future webOS-based devices, at least for awhile, even as Palm encourages them to embrace the new platform.

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