Palm's App Catalog, part 2

Palm made some announcements yesterday, so I suppose I ought to post a follow-up to my post about the nightmare of dealing with their App Catalog submission process.

After I posted that, it really made the rounds. I was surprised at how much press it got so quickly. So, with a PR disaster like that, you'd think the first thing Palm would do would be to finally post my apps, right? Well, they still haven't. Even though they stated their intention of posting my two applications in their app catalog way back in early July, neither the intervening months, nor the recent bad press, has caused them to actually post them.

Obviously I'm more concerned about the bigger picture: I want Palm to make it easy for all developers to get their software into the hands of anyone who wants it, without Palm being a roadblock between them.

But still, if you were Palm, wouldn't your first step be to actually resolve the problem for the guy who brought your broken system to the attention of the press? I guess they don't see it that way.

One of the new guys at Palm twitted at me that he wanted to talk on the phone about this stuff, and I replied, "What more is there to say? Just post my apps already." Apparently the peanut gallery thinks that was "rude", but after having spent three months, thirty-ish emails, and the aforementioned 160-line blog post explaining my position, I don't think they really require clarification on where I'm coming from. Seriously, have I been unclear?

The only conversation I'm really interested in having about this at this point is one that ends with them saying, "Hey, your apps are in the app catalog now." And you know, a one-line email saying that would do just fine. We don't have to do that on the phone.

Anyway, yesterday they made an announcement. Here's their press release and here's their attempt to explain what the press release says in English.

I found even the second link somewhat confusing, but as far as I can decipher, what it says is this: starting in December, developers will have these three options:

  1. Sell or give away your app through Palm's App Catalog, after Palm has reviewed, nitpicked and finally approved your app, and after you have paid $99 per year and $50 per application. Palm keeps 30% of every sale.
  2. Sell or give away your app through some kind of "second-class-citizen" app catalog that Palm intends to create, without Palm reviewing your app first. You still have to pay $99, and Palm still keeps 30% of every sale, but you don't have to pay $50 per app.

  3. If your app uses one of the recognized open source licenses (BSD, GPL, etc.) then Palm will let you give away your app in that "second-class-citizen" app catalog without paying for the privilege.

We still really have no idea what this second-class-citizen app catalog will look like, since they say it won't exist for two to three months. That means it doesn't help those of us who have working apps today that we would like to get into the hands of our users today, but it's a step in the right direction, assuming that getting things into the second-class-citizen catalog is a whole lot easier than getting it into the "real" catalog has been so far. (It won't surprise you to learn that based on their past behavior, I don't think that's a particularly likely assumption. But we'll see.)

But this is all needlessly complicated.

Here's what I want:

  1. A developer makes the executable of their application available on their own web site.
  2. A user visits the developer's web site via the web browser on their phone, and clicks on the link.
  3. A dialog box asks, "Are you sure you want to do this crazy thing?"
  4. The application installs. Done.

That's how it worked on PalmOS. That's how it works on desktop computers! Anything more complicated than that is just stupid.

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