Palm Web OS With SDK Access And Cloud

Palm’s efforts to jump-start an ecosystem for its new webOS platform took another step forward Wednesday, when it expanded the release of its Mojo software development kit (SDK). The announcement at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco also included plans for integrating cloud services into the webOS platform, as well as the unveiling of an application that will allow legacy Palm OS programs to run on webOS devices.
Release Later in 2009

Before the announcement, the Mojo SDK had been available only to a small group of developer partners, but now it will be provided to a wider group of developers who apply for access at the Palm Developer Network Web site. However, the company said access will continue to be limited as improvements are made, and a general release will be scheduled later this year.

Palm Senior Vice President Michael Abbott emphasized the importance of developers to the webOS ecosystem. With the SDK available to more developers, he added, “the enthusiasm for webOS will only grow and accelerate.”

Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at industry research firm Forrester, noted that an SDK is “only the first step” in getting developers actively creating applications for a new platform like Palm’s webOS. Other essential issues for developers, he noted, include “what the overall ecosystem looks like,” what’s the business model, how well the application store works, and whether the barrier to entry is reasonable.

Palm is emphasizing to developers that “webOS is a new kind of mobile platform.” For instance, the company said, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS are integrated into the architecture, applications can cache data locally and be readily customized, and the platform has true multitasking.

In the Cloud

Part of the new ecology for the webOS is in the cloud, with a new branded cloud service that provides resources over the Internet. The Mojo SDK, in its full release later this year, will include a messaging service. This standards-based functionality provides a way to exchange information over the Internet, by publishing it to the cloud and notifying subscribers that new information is available.

Among other things, Mojo also enables developers to integrate applications such as linked contacts, layered calendars, multitasking, notifications and GPS functions.

MotionApps’ emulator application, also announced Wednesday, allows most applications built for the Palm OS to run on webOS-based devices. The emulator will be available when the first webOS device, Palm’s new Pre smartphone, becomes available before the end of June, although no specific date for either the device or the emulator has been released. The only drawback will be that legacy apps won’t be able to take advantage of core webOS functions.

The Palm Pre and its webOS platform were first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The beleaguered company is hoping to regain at least some of its one-time market and innovation glory with the new touchscreen device. But it’s competing with devices that already have highly advanced ecosystems, such as Apple’s iPhones and RIM’s BlackBerrys, as well as with devices that are rapidly developing their support systems and communities, such as Android-based handsets.

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