Palm to open developer doors to webOS in December

Smartphone maker Palm plans to open a full-scale developer program to encourage third-party applications for its webOS platform by the end of the year and has just begun a trial run of its App Catalog store.

In August, Palm allowed developers to begin submitting applications for inclusion in its App Catalog, which is built into devices with webOS, the company's newest operating system. Palm is eventually looking to drive over-the-air downloads for webOS applications and give developers more options for distributing and promoting their applications.

Under the program, developers will receive 70 percent of the revenue after tax, with that money sent via eBay's PayPal online payment service. Palm keeps 30 percent.

Palm will charge developers $50 for every application they list in the catalog, and the company must approve the applications before they're included. Developers will also be able to bid for priority placement in the catalog using Palm's auction system.

Developers will also be able to distribute their application over the Web, with Palm providing the transaction and fulfillment technology. Applications will get a unique URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and can be downloaded over the air, Palm said.

Palm said that option will let developers do their own online marketing and have greater control over distribution and promotion of their applications. Palm also has instituted a self-certification process for those applications, although they must conform to Palm's content and user interface guidelines.

"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," the company said on its blog. "We want you to embrace these principles, establish a high bar of quality and user experience, and help enforce these rules."

A $99 membership fee is required for the developer program. Palm has decided to waive the fee if a developer is distributing an open-source program made available "under one of the commonly accepted licenses," the company said.

The developer program will also include tools that can be used to build, test, distribute and receive feedback on applications, Palm said. Palm has made available the Mojo SDK (software development kit) for webOS.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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