A workaround will not save the Palm economy...

Re: Kinda stepping on my point, there... -- Jeff Kirvin
Posted by Jean Ichbiah , 06/16/2005, 14:17:59 Reply Top Forum


I think you are helping all of us by these two threads. It is very good that you are making public in this way the difficulties encountered by products such as Datebk5, pEdit, and our Fitaly among many others.

Let's not be fooled, the current workaround using Alexander Pruss' SkinDIA is nothing but a workaround. Kyle found the first quirk and there will be others.

So the point is very well worth making. There is no excuse for PalmOne not to produce compatible devices, not to publish the changes they do, not to give advance notice to developers. Again, nobody would ever think of asking whether Excel will work in the latest IBM ThinkPad and it is absurd for PalmOne to create such a situation.

There are a number of factors that are currently endangering the Palm economy and its survival:

PalmOne is creating an environment where developing software for the Palm platform is becoming overly costly. In the early days, you could take for granted that if a software worked on a Palm III it would work on a Palm V or a Palm VII or a Sony. And this was a time where the devices sales were much much larger than they are now. With one software version you could address tens of millions of machines.

I regard it as incompetence from PalmOne that this is no longer the case (this is said by someone who has been in the software industry since 1968). This shows that the PalmOne teams completely disregards the value of the Palm as a software platform. Anyone who has attended one of their presentations must have been struck by the impression they conveyed that the only thing that matters are the supplied applications. No mention of third party applications. Actually the only mention you ever get of third-party applications is when you call PalmOne support and are told that crashes are obviously caused by third party applications.

This disregard for providing a compatible software environment is a definite puzzle for software veterans like Steuart Dewar and myself: Is it worth investing on that platform if our conterparts at PalmOne betray such an immature attitude with respect to the needs of software compatibility? I can invest development time on the Pocket PC platform and be assured that my investment will be amortized on around 100 devices from different manufacturers -- I don't do an HP 4700 version and a Dell X55v version, I just do a Windows Mobile version.

The underlying message PalmOne is sending us is that our applications are not welcome. Do they really mean it? Do they really want developers to believe it?

Palm software distribution is becoming more difficult. In early days we had portals called Handango and PalmGear that were good ways to publicize application. They were charging a 20% fee that we were all willing to accept, even if 10% would have been more appropriate for the little they were doing.

But these portals gradually became more greedy: the last time I checked they were asking for 50% and more... To make things worse they were imposing procedurally costly requirements such as removing any mention of the producer of the software, on products listed on their sites.

PalmOne itself in its agreenent with PalmGear went to the ultimate degree in its requirements for listing on their sites:

1.4 Linkage Prevention. Developer shall not designate any Software for the palmOne Program that contains any link, URL, mailing address, or phone number that would directly or indirectly point or transfer any end user of the Software to any location outside of palmOne's Software Connection Area, whether for maintenance, support, registration, frequently asked questions, upgrades, or any other purpose, or to any malicious code or site of any kind.

So, what does this mean? On one hand, software becomes more costly to develop because of a complete disregard for software compatibility. On the other hand, the channels for publishing new applications are becoming much more onerous in dollars and in procedural costs.

What can you expect from such a situation? Products that can afford to develop their own channels and do their own advertising in various journals and web sites will continue: Products like Datebk5, Fitaly, Laridian... On the other hand this is becoming much more difficult for smaller product and remember that we have to start small before we get a chance to grow.

Jean Ichbiah

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