preDevCamp - Palm's missed opportunity
Back in February, Whurley, Gio and I heard about a new product called the Palm Pre.
I was excited at the promise of a new, open mobile development platform and we decided to recreate the success of iPhoneDevCamp by creating preDevCamp.
I never expected Palm to provide assistance, but I hoped they would. Apple was flooding the market with advertisements, not for the iPhone, but for the iPhone App Store and the abundant apps.
Clearly, a thriving supply of mobile applications was the way to sell a new mobile device.
I’d developed apps for Palm OS in the past and I knew that there was a devoted community of developers out there; however, they were rather neglected developers, since Palm hadn’t really been a major player in the mobile arena for a while. With the advent of the Pre, I thought things were changing.
Time went by and there were fleeting moments of contact with Palm. We spoke to them; they seemed interested but asked us to put a disclaimer that we were not affiliated with them, before they would enter into a relationship with them. This seemed a little backwards to me, but we complied. Not much transpired after that.
Then Mitch Allen gave his web presentation on developing WebOS apps and gave us a shout out. I was really excited about this; the CTO of Software was aware of what we were doing, but there wasn’t any follow up from Palm following that.
Finally, last week, Palm sent us some NDAs in preparation for a meeting this Wednesday. We signed them and prepared ourselves for an interesting update. Gio sent out a tweet simply stating that we had a meeting and it was under an NDA, as a result Palm then cancelled the meeting and cancelled any discussions covered by an NDA. At that point, my hopes for a useful relationship with Palm died.
As a corporation, I acknowledge that Palm’s only responsibility is to its shareholders. There’s nothing self serving or evil about that; it’s how things work in big business. However there are many keen and willing developers out there, who have been waiting for the arrival of WebOS. A development platform is only a success if it is broadly adopted. Instead of embracing the grassroots upswell of interest in WebOS that preDevCamp fostered, Palm seem to be, at best, oblivious and, at worst, disdainful of the enthusiasm and good will engendered by these folk. I think they are missing a real opportunity to be involved in and to help generate the growth of a vital community.
My fellow preDevCamp founders and I may have differing views on the impact of Palm’s interactions with us. Personally, I’m left disappointed at what I view as a lack of foresight on Palm’s behalf. Palm will live or die by the success of the WebOS platform. The preDevCamp community will be a large part of this. However, my excitement remains about the WebOS platform. I couldn’t really give two hoots about Palm at this point. I do want preDevCamp to be a success and I know it will be; we have dedicated organizers all the way across the globe. We have a release date, at last. We have a date for preDevCamp. It’s all systems go. I encourage you to stay focused on the product and on the exciting possibilities that WebOS brings. My only hope, now, is that Palm runs the course with their indifference to community. If they don’t want to help us, that’s fine. I just hope they don’t try and get in our way.