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Palm Announces New 'No Review' App Distribution Options

Dion and BenUpdated: Welcome news for developers tonight: Palm has just concluded a gathering of developers and journalists to officially introduce their new Developer Relations heads to the community, and made two big announcements to boot. Firstly, they've announced a new app distribution model that does away with any Big Brother review process. Developers can now upload their applications directly to Palm, who will then return a URL which can be used to access applications directly from the Pre - as simple as that. These URLs can be reposted anyhwere, and Palm says that "public feeds of these URLs and other relevant application data (such as reviews and ratings) will also be made available to the community to help applications find their market".

The second piece of news is possibly even bigger: if developers choose to make their apps available as free open source, then the $99 annual fee for selling in the App Catalog will be waived. (A $50 one-time fee will still be charged for each app uploaded into the catalog.) To cap it all off, every developer in the audience was given a free Pre and Touchstone with a month's free service from Sprint. "Just hack on it," were reportedly Ben Galbraith's words.

Update: Palm have just made the announcement official, also revealing their innovative new auction process for promotional places within the App Catalog. Palm have also delved into more detail on the Developer Network Blog, and a promotional video has been put up here. We've reposted the press release, along with some of the more interesting quotes from the blog, after the jump.

Palm has also announced that they're opening up their analytics from the App Catalog to developers who may be interested in the data, in stark contrast to a certain fruit-named techno-giant which jealously guards this information.

Quotes from Developer Community Manager Chuq von Rospach on the Palm Developer Network Blog

You'll see in our initial program the start of our investment in the community and the use of market forces as natural mechanisms for applications to find their value and for developers to build their businesses around. Let there be no question: We envision a Palm application ecosystem and product experience that is even more community and market driven—both on our devices and off. The initial program elements you'll read about here are twinkles in our eyes relative to where we can go and what we can do. We look forward to building out this program and its possibilities with your involvement.

Recognizing the value of the on-device catalog as a distribution channel and as a friction point to control the flow of apps into it, we're going to charge $50 for each app you submit to this channel. This fee covers the lifetime of the app, even though Palm may review many versions of it. Palm will review apps in the order in which they are received and will respond in a timely fashion. Should your app be rejected, Palm will let you know specifically why the app was rejected, and you can revise and resubmit your application.

We will also make priority placement opportunities available within the Palm App Catalog for developers to gain more visibility for their application. We have heard feedback that there are too few options for investing in the promotion of applications, and we want to provide developers the ability to invest and grow their business. These promotional opportunities will be open, transparent, and priced by the market through an auction mechanism.

The rules: Palm has built a set of application criteria intended to provide a great webOS experience. We expect these guidelines to evolve and change as the developer and end-user communities become more active in our review and merchandising practices, and as our device and service capabilities evolve.

The Palm Application Content Criteria exist largely to ensure a high standard of application content, performance, and appearance as well as to protect webOS devices, other webOS apps (and particularly the data they rely on), and the carriers' networks. You will want to review these rules carefully, since they give Palm the right to suspend or discontinue distribution of your application if you choose to disregard them.

By opening up a web distribution channel free from our review, we are placing a great deal of trust in you—the developer—and the community. We want you to embrace these principles, establish a high bar of quality and user experience, and help enforce these rules. Our commitment to you is that we will be clear and transparent about these guidelines, and continually invest in our services that will give you more freedom over time with our platform.

Full Press Release: Palm to Open Doors to Developer Program in December

Program Will Offer Palm webOS Developers Choice and Control to Drive Their Businesses

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct 06, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Palm, Inc. (NASDAQ:PALM) today announced it will officially open the doors to its Palm(R) webOS(TM) developer program in December. The program will offer developers a choice of how to get their applications to market and an unparalleled level of transparency that provides them with the control to promote and grow their businesses. Extending the unique web orientation of the Palm webOS platform, the developer program will provide innovative opportunities to leverage the web as a promotional channel for applications.

"Our program will be unlike anything currently available, and has been established to promote a thriving community by giving developers direct involvement in their own success," said Katie Mitic, senior vice president, Product Marketing, Palm, Inc. "Whether you're looking for immediate distribution or just feedback on early stages of development, this program is built to scale to your needs and finally put you in control of investing in and promoting your business."

The launch of the program is the next step in expanding the impact of Palm webOS by supporting and growing the developer community. In August, Palm announced that developers who wish to charge for their Palm webOS applications could begin submitting them for consideration in the Palm App Catalog e-commerce beta program, which went live today. Developers selected to participate in the beta program have the opportunity to make their applications, both free and paid, available to consumers.

Palm is focused on building a thriving environment for all developers to create, distribute, promote and monetize the delivery of valuable applications to Palm customers. Developers will receive a 70/30 split (developer/Palm) of gross revenues generated through application sales (after applicable taxes). The membership-based program will have a $99 annual fee and will offer developers two options for getting their applications to market:

  • Distribution on the web--Palm will provide a sales transaction and fulfillment service for developers who wish to promote their applications online. 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.
  • Distribution in the Palm App Catalog--Applications distributed in the Palm App Catalog that is built in to every Palm webOS device will be subject to review by Palm, and developers will pay a nominal per-application fee of $50. In addition, Palm will create a unique promotional marketplace where developers can utilize an auction process to obtain prominent placement in the Palm App Catalog and find new customers.

Public feeds of application URLs and other relevant application data (such as reviews, ratings, and stats) will be made available to the community to help applications find their market. Palm expects directories, ranking mechanisms, and other inventive services built around this data to emerge.

Also, in appreciation of what the open source movement has contributed to the web, Palm will waive the $99 program fee for developers interested in distributing open source Palm webOS apps to the web. If the source of an app is available to the public under one of the commonly accepted licenses, it will be eligible for this program.

Both distribution options include a support program that will provide developers the tools to quickly build, test, distribute and receive feedback on their Palm webOS applications. Developers can control how beta testers access their applications, allowing them to iteratively improve their products and scale to their needs.

"We're listening to developers, and the message that they want choice and an option to self-certify their applications has come through loud and clear," said Mitic. "The flexibility that comes with our program's easy way to test mobile applications, as well as the ability for developers to use the web to market and promote their own applications and boost sales, is invaluable."

Each element of the Palm developer program is designed to help developers promote their work and ultimately drive downloads directly over the air. Developers can choose to sell applications using both distribution options as they see fit. Palm's application guidelines will be made available online and will apply to all Palm webOS applications. U.S. customers will be able to easily purchase applications using Visa and MasterCard credit cards. More information about the Palm developer program is available on the Palm Developer Network at http://pdn.palm.com.

Thanks to TechCrunch for the original tip.

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nice to see Palm try to be different here

pmjoe @ 10/6/2009 8:38:40 AM # Q
A lot of details, and I don't think they went as far as they could've. They still want their 30%. But, this certainly seems to be a more interesting model than Apple's.
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Only free apps?

gmayhak @ 10/6/2009 9:05:25 AM # Q
If this quote from the TechCrunch article is true, not much has changed.

"Presumably, any app developer who wants to charge for their app will still have to go through the store. And for those developers, Palm will charge $50 for the apps to go into the Catalog."
Tech Center Labs

RE: Only free apps?
pmjoe @ 10/6/2009 1:50:56 PM # Q
If you go by the press release, there are 2 options for distribution: 1. "Distribution on the Web" and 2. "Distribution in the Palm App Catalog". Under Distribution on the Web, the release says, "Palm will provide a sales transaction and fulfillment service for developers who wish to promote their applications online. Every App will receive a unique URL ... enabling customers to download and install the application directly from the cloud to their phone using Palm's unique over-the-air process."

I'm not sure how to read that. It seems to imply "sales transaction" via the unique URL from distribution on the web that is not part of the App Catalog (which you then pay $50 to be in).

Even if it was only for "free" apps, I wonder if it's possible/allowable to have a "free" app to download that charges you (outside of Palm's site) to register or some other subscription once you use it?

If either/both of the above are true, that's better than I was initially reading into it.

RE: Only free apps?
SeldomVisitor @ 10/6/2009 1:56:41 PM # Q
There should be no ambiguity about this.

There may BE ambiguity...but there should NOT be.

Palm needs, once again, to clarify.

RE: Only free apps?
Tim Carroll @ 10/6/2009 2:28:04 PM # Q
TechCrunch, who were at the event that nobody else seemed to hear about, sum it up like this:

* If you wish to develop for webOS, you must pay a $99 yearly fee.
* But if you use code that is open-sourced, Palm will waive that $99 fee.
* If you wish to then distribute your app in Palm's App Catalog, there will be a $50 per-application fee.
* But if you distribute via the web, you can do so for free.

So depending on how you mix and match those, development for webOS can range from free to roughly $150 a year.

But there are also rules with regard to the screening of the apps:

* If you want to distribute your app in Palm's App Catalog, it is subject to review by Palm.
* But if you do web distribution, there is a "fast" self-certification process.

So why put your app in the store at all? Well first, unless you have your own advertising means, Palm's store will undoubtedly be a better place for discovery on a large scale. Second, with apps that are sold in the App Catalog, Palm offers a 70/30 cut, with 70 percent of the gross revenues going to developers. (Which is the same deal that Apple offers). And third, apps in the Catalog will also get access to detailed analytics (stats, ratings, etc) that will be shared with the rest of the community.


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Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?

Tim Carroll @ 10/7/2009 12:24:09 AM # Q
http://www.newsweek.com/id/216788

Steve Demeter seems like the perfect poster boy for Apple. Two years ago, the 30-year-old computer programmer became one of the first people to sell his product—a puzzle game called Trism—through Apple's App Store, a virtual marketplace where third-party software developers connect with customers wanting downloads for their iPhones. He pulled in $250,000 in just two months and quit his job writing code for ATMs. Demeter's success caught the eye of Apple's public-relations team, which profiled him in an inspirational video at Apple.com and gave him a shout out at its June 2009 World Wide Developers' Conference (WWDC). Media hailed the San Francisco resident an "App Store Millionaire" who would never have to work again—a happy financial reality that Demeter confirms. "Nine-to-five is no longer a concept for me," he tells NEWSWEEK.

Only that's not because of Apple.

Demeter's new-found wealth—he won't specify the exact amount in case people bombard him for loans—comes from investing his earnings in Apple's archrival Palm. "I bought Palm's stock for $1.76 and sold it for $12," he says. "It's kind of ironic."


RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
abosco @ 10/7/2009 5:37:49 AM # M Q
Wow, he timed the stock market well! That is definitely a bigger deal than the fact that this small-time developer became a millionaire in months from the App Store!

Palm's stock is a sham. The company gets three cash infusions from Elevation Partners, disappointing quarterly Pre sales, and a stock sale, and it somehow increases in price. That defies logic, and it has nothing to do with Palm's credibility as a competitor. It has everything to do with low-volume trading and a stock market that no longer represents the economy.

RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
SeldomVisitor @ 10/7/2009 5:51:07 AM # Q
There is a famous market saying that goes something like:

== The Market Can Stay Irrational Longer Than You Can Stay Solvent.

RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
Gekko @ 10/7/2009 6:08:33 AM # Q

well we don't know all the details. we don't know how much he bought. regardless, he speculated, he gambled and appears to have won. but he could have just as easily lost it all. IMO - if he gambled with a huge chunk of his net worth - it was irresponsible. if it was a small amount he gambled with, i can't see how the returns after taxes could be life changing in and of themselves.

i have 3 pieces of wisdom for him -

1. never confuse luck with skill. but it's better to be lucky than good!

2. "There is a small god in the trading pits that allows everyone to call the top correctly once and the bottom correctly once, and to be wrong as many times as he or she likes."

3. never buy a stripper a car.

RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
Tim Carroll @ 10/7/2009 6:43:18 AM # Q
^^ lmao at #3. Sound advice.

That's just the opening to the article, which I found amusing. It actually goes quite a bit in-depth into some of the difficulties that developers face making it big in the App Store, though. Good read. It also indirectly illustrates why Palm's web-language-based approach can be a big advantage - the investment you need to make in time (and thus, money) is significantly lower when you can build apps so much more quickly, and don't have to wait for Big Brother to give you the A-OK.

Of course, there's a trade-off - sophisticated games aren't really possible yet, and once they are they'll still be expensive (as games always are). But the point is solid: a gold-rush atmosphere, difficulties in getting promotion and the race-to-the-bottom pricing mentality is making things very tough for some devs. Palm seem to be learning from these problems. Hopefully they'll be able to mitigate them.

RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
Tim Carroll @ 10/7/2009 2:42:07 PM # Q
^^ I'd ask how you discovered this, but knowing your likely Googling habits, maybe it's best I don't...
RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
mikecane @ 10/7/2009 4:39:31 PM # Q
>>>>well we don't know all the details. we don't know how much he bought. regardless, he speculated, he gambled and appears to have won.

Get frikkin real. If *I* had had the $$$, *I* would have bought Palm stock to hold after the Pre announcement. It was INEVITABLE that it'd go up. Another goddam small fortune lost.

>>>i have 3 pieces of wisdom for him -

>>>1. never confuse luck with skill. but it's better to be lucky than good!

That depends. A lucky incompetent is no asset.

>>>2. "There is a small god in the trading pits that allows everyone to call the top correctly once and the bottom correctly once, and to be wrong as many times as he or she likes."

Good luck never lasts, bad luck never ends. I coined that.

>>>3. never buy a stripper a car.

Wait. What? Oh shit!

RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
Gekko @ 10/7/2009 5:07:20 PM # Q

everything looks easy and obvious in hindsight. we remember the would-be successful bets but forget about all of the ones that would have lost.

any gains from these occasions are likely to be wiped away as it gives the investor a false confidence that he can repeat his successes.


RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
mikecane @ 10/8/2009 5:06:21 PM # Q
Oh, you've been reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb now, have you? Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan? Upping your IQ for those job interviews at Mickey D's Just In Case? But what about the boiling point of vegetable oil, Gekko? Set your priorities, dammit!

Anyway, baloney.

You're just sore that YOU couldn't see Palm doing a ~6x valuation increase. I thought it'd go 10x. It might well do that as a premium for acquisition.

And with your propensity for the gross and vulgar, why didn't YOU think up iFart? That prick is raking in EIGHT GRAND A DAY!!

iPhone Apps have made us rich!
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2672385/iPod-Apps-have-made-us-rich.html

Suddenly Gekko finds an interest in Palm Pre development. HTML5/CSS/JavaScript, Gekko. Do you want fries with that?

RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
Tim Carroll @ 10/8/2009 5:21:03 PM # M Q
I'm thinking of making the first webOS "I Am Rich" application...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Rich

RE: Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?
Gekko @ 10/8/2009 6:53:21 PM # Q

no. bartender in south beach.

"We attribute our successes to our skills, and our failures to external events outside our control."

"Human instinct tends to mean we ascribe meaning to mere noise. Most of what seems like talent among chief executives or fund managers is pure luck; randomness will always favour a few. Worse, traders can appear to be doing far better than is justified, until they lose it all when one huge bet goes against them. The risks people forget are of things that have not happened before and of share price movements considered impossible or absurd."

- Taleb

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