The Top 5 Palm Pre and webOS Mysteries

While Palm has done a bang up job of continually updating and improving webOS, some mysteries remain–areas where it’s just not clear why something’s not been fixed or made available. Some examples (in no particular order):

1. Docs to Go: This one’s not directly Palm’s responsibility, but one really does have to wonder why Dataviz hasn’t released on of the most anticipated products for webOS. The mystery is compounded by the fact that Docs to Go was expected soon after the Palm Pre’s release on 6/6/2009 and then by the end of the year. Here it is in February of 2010, and nothing from Dataviz but the same nebulous promise of a release “early in 2010.” It makes one wonder if there’s some fundamental limitation with the webOS SDK or even webOS itself that makes an application like this difficult to write.

2. How many webOS devices have been sold?: Palm has been curiously silent about exactly how many webOS devices have been sold in the seven months or so since the Pre’s initial release. Various press conferences and analyst reports indicate that the number is probably something over a million devices, but nobody but Palm seems to know. It might simply be that Palm understands the dynamic of such information–they’re probably damned if they do announce the numbers (what number would be big enough to impress compared to the iPhone?) and damned if they don’t (the silence feeds speculation that the numbers are poor). Palm is probably just simply playing it safe. At some point their silence has to hurt the platform, however, because one has to wonder how many developers are so far avoiding webOS because they simply can’t guess at the return they might realize from writing webOS applications.

3. No MSN/Live Messenger Support: webOS supports Google Talk, Yahoo! , and AOL messaging, but not MSN/Live Messenger. Why? There wouldn’t seem to be any technical reason why it’s not supported, and there are certainly enough users to justify its inclusion. What does Palm know that we don’t?

4. No microphone access in SDK: The lack of access to the microphone limits the SDK significantly, making voice recording and other apps that capture sound impossible. Shazam is one such application, and it’s popular on other platforms. Given all the noise about using a cellphone while driving, this limitation is potentially even more important because it makes the requisite handsfree (i.e., voice) dialing impossible. Unlike advanced gaming that requires access to the GPU (and, ironically, has already arrived via the plug-in development kit or PDK) and video recording that stresses the CPU, access to the microphone would seem relatively easy to implement in the SDK. Since the video recording app coming in webOS 1.4 records sound along with video, perhaps that’s when Palm will enable sound and voice recording. If not, then this mystery just deepens.

5. Delay in Paid Apps Internationally: Applications rule the smartphone market, and so one really must wonder why Palm continues to delay releasing paid apps outside the US. This would seem to severely limit Palm’s success in those markets, and it’s not obvious why this delay remains in effect. The App Catalog should be completely available everywhere in March, and that’s not a moment to soon.

What are your top webOS mysteries?


  1. Jeffrey Kensenhuis says:

    I’m very curious about the above “why not’s” and the “when’s” because I think webos is the most revolutionary OS in the world. When I heard that HP bought Palm, I thought everything would go much faster. Still waiting for the official release of webOS products here (The Netherlands). I couldn’t wait any longer, so I decided to order one from ebay. I also had the latest app catalog and was amazed to find out I still couldn’t download the paid apps. I think HP webOS is not collecting 100′s of thousands of dollars because just a few countries are supported.

    The synergy works great, but it should support more services like facebook chat and msn live messenger! HP should promote developers like WhatsApp for a webOS version (maybe even pay them to do it!). This way HP can roll out their webOS empire in no time! This because it’s brilliant but with not enough apps / possibilities people won’t choose for webOS!

    an ol skool Palm user (from 1997!)


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