Following up on the release of the beta app catalog e-commerce program, we’re excited to announce that we’re opening our app distribution program to the entire Palm® webOS™ developer community by the end of the year.
This is an exciting moment for us as we share our vision and future plans. In response to your feedback on existing programs, and drawing on the web for inspiration, we designed our program to give you the kind of choice you’d expect from a web platform and to create both a better developer and user experience for mobile apps.
The Program’s Inspiration
The web as a platform isn’t just about how applications are developed, but how they are distributed and discovered as well. The web, and the value of the community that drives it, were top-of-mind considerations as we brought the individual elements of the program together.
Specifically, we appreciate that the web is not only a large distribution channel, but also an incredibly smart and efficient one. The community actively helps users find the content, people, and services that are relevant to them. It also brings more creativity to that process than we could ever assemble inside of Palm. The community touches nearly every possible customer, and has demonstrated it can monitor its own user-generated content, services, and spaces. At Palm, we want to create great mobile experiences for both the developer community and the web community at large.
Also, we appreciate that accessible, transparent online marketplaces are well accepted and have driven results for those who participate—both those who build and sell products and those who consume them. These promotional opportunities provide developers and merchants great opportunities to invest in their business—to drive awareness and get value for their marketing investment and do so with transparency and efficiency. These new marketplace mechanisms are driving huge value for those who use them.
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.
The Program Basics
Later this year, you’ll be able to choose from the following methods of distributing your applications as part of membership in the Palm developer program ($99 at developer.palm.com):
- Promote your free or paid applications on the web for distribution to webOS devices. Apps require self-certification according to Palm’s guidelines but are available to promote freely in any online channel with a unique URL without Palm application review. You can also provide access to other relevant content about your app, including descriptions and reviews. Applications will be distributed to any webOS device using our over-the-air service.
- Promote your applications in the on-device Palm App Catalog. Distribute and promote your free or paid apps to webOS devices using a highly targeted channel, the on-device Palm App Catalog. These apps will be reviewed and approved by Palm. 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.
- Priority placement in the app catalog. A limited number of priority placements will be available in the catalog if you want to obtain greater visibility for your application. These placements will be openly available for bid in our auction system at prices that are determined by the community, based on demand.
All paid application purchases entitle the registered application developer to receive 70% of revenues, net of applicable taxes. Developers who charge for their software will need to set up a PayPal account to receive their share of revenue from Palm. Customers will initially be able to purchase applications with MasterCard and Visa.
Additionally, if you are an open source developer, you can promote your open source software on the web through a unique open source method without paying the $99 program fee.
Palm App Catalog. The Palm App Catalog represents the most targeted channel to webOS customers, as it is available on every webOS device. Distribution through this branded, targeted channel requires application review. Apps can be submitted through the developer site at developer.palm.com. They are subject to approval according to the Palm User Interface Guidelines as well as the Palm Application Content Criteria. As announced in August, we are accepting applications to the beta app catalog e-commerce program for distribution on the catalog.
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.
Web distribution. Recognizing the value of the web community and the web as a promotional channel, Palm will invest in the tools and services that help you utilize the web and other online channels as powerful promotional opportunities for webOS applications. This approach also addresses feedback we’ve heard from developers who are frustrated by a review-first, publish-later process.
To enjoy the full capabilities of our program, you can self-certify that your app meets the Palm User Interface Guidelines and Palm Application Content Criteria and receive a unique URL to start promoting the app online within hours. You can use this URL in any of your existing online marketing assets, and you can begin selling these applications immediately, without review by Palm. With this URL, you can create or use existing marketing channels such as your email list, blog, SEO, and more. These links will provide the ability for users to authenticate and instantly receive applications directly to their devices using Palm’s over-the-air distribution mechanism.
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. We’re excited to see the emergence of directories, ranking mechanisms, and other inventive services that can be built around this data.
We expect this form of distribution to be especially popular while applications are still in their beta phase, when you are anxious to get applications to customers ASAP to create rapid feedback cycles and help improve the quality and usability of applications.
Open source apps. The web would never have happened without the open source movement. In this tradition, we will enable the distribution of open source webOS apps to the web without you having to pay the $99 program fee. If the source of your app is available to the public under one of the commonly accepted licenses (BSD, Apache, GPL, MIT, etc.), you can distribute your apps on the web for free. Open source projects will have a separate registration process and these open source accounts can only have open source projects associated with them. You will still have to register at webOSdev to download the Palm Mojo™ Software Development Kit; SDK downloads are free.
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.
While the full program has yet to be released, you can download the Mojo SDK for free at webOSdev and join the webOSdev community to participate in our forums and both give and receive support on webOS application development.
Additionally, you can submit applications to be considered for our e-commerce beta program, which will run until our full program is released before the end of the year.
We look forward to building great mobile experiences with all of you, and as always, welcome your feedback. Tell us what you think by sending a note. And stay tuned for more details about the app distribution program as we get closer to launch!
Finally, we would like to take a moment to thank our early access partners and developers who have been working with us to build our platform and program. Today these partners have introduced over 125 applications that have been downloaded almost 8 million times since the first webOS device, the Palm Pre™ phone, shipped just three months ago. It has been great working with you, and we look forward to more!
—the Palm Developer Relations team