Palm’s Mojo Risin’

Palm issued a public release of the Mojo software development kit (SDK) for its new webOS operating system, in what could possibly be a response to leaks of the SDK in June.

The SDK, given a limited release in April, had been slated for public release by the end of summer.

Palm’s take is that the public release follows the success of its early access program.

Palm’s Mojo SDK Announcement

“After a successful early access program, Palm’s Mojo Software Development Kit is available to all interested app developers,” begins the announcement on Palm’s blog by Online Communications Director Jon Zilber.

The SDK can be downloaded from a new developer portal — Palm webOSdev — at the Palm developer Web site.

Any interested developer with a valid e-mail address can access the SDK, associated documentation and new Mojo development forums.

Zilber said new applications are in the pipeline for the Palm App catalog, and Palm will open the App Catalog submission process to all developers this Fall.

The Best-Laid Plans

In late June, a version of the Mojo SDK was reportedly leaked to the Web. A June 26 post on the Pre Insiders blog noted that a Twitter user with the handle @robovalzuniga had sent out a tweet confirming the leak and providing a download link.

The article also posted several other download avenues, including Rapidshare, My Unspace and 2Shared.

At least two respondents to the blog post — exstatica and Ribbitz — included links to mirror sites in their replies. Occuranz, a third respondent, noted that the SDK is Windows-based, while webOS itself is based on Linux.

Just a week earlier, on June 19, Chuq Von Ruspach, hired by Palm as developer community manager in February, had said on the company’s blog that it would open up the SDK to everyone by the end of summer.

“The software and the developer services to support it just aren’t ready yet,” he wrote.

On June 29, Palm released webOS 1.0.4 to address a security vulnerability that let hackers use e-mail links to install what Palm chief security architect Brian Hernacki described as “arbitrary packages” on Pre — that’s “malware applications” to you and me.

Palm declined comment on the question of whether or not its hand had been forced by the earlier leak. “All the information that Palm has announced about the SDK is at the Palm blog,” Karen Chan, from Palm’s public relations company Waggener Edstrom, told TechNewsWorld.

Bowing to the Inevitable?

Palm has ramped up its activities around webOS application development. In addition to the official download portal, it’s created a webOS development forum.

It is also working with Meetup Groups for meeting places where various topics related to the Pre are discussed. On Aug. 8, preDevCamp, an informal network of Mojo developers, will host events in 73 cities around the world.

Sprint, which is the exclusive carrier for the Pre, is also involved. Developing for the Pre will be among topics discussed at the Sprint 2009 Open Developers Conference, to be held in Santa Clara, Calif., in October.

“We are delighted that the webOS SDK is available now and, through our application developer program, we are supporting the success of webOS and hope to open the door to many more developers creating apps for Palm devices,” Sprint Nextel spokesperson Jennifer Kiefer told TechNewsWorld.

The Elephant in the Room

Like nearly every other smartphone vendor, Palm is haunted by the specter of Apple, which has made a major impact on the smartphone and apps markets.

Getting the SDK out to developers is just one step. Now devs will have to come back with apps in order to put more momentum behind the platform, and many rivals platforms and app stores are already competing for developers’ time and attention.

“While the Pre is one of the best devices out there in terms of user experience, you don’t have that many apps on it,” Julien Blin, principal analyst and CEO at JBB Research, told TechNewsWorld. “The iPhone’s a much bigger market for developers, and they will probably focus on it.”

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