Today’s webOS Developers Create Goodwill for Tomorrow’s Market

Rahul Sood blogged awhile back about how developers should get into the webOS market today while the going is good. That’s sage advice—Palm’s App Catalog is still small enough that a developer can make a real splash, and the webOS community is a tight-knit group that’s grown close by sharing a common sense of delight that only comes with actively using webOS. As HP helps Palm put webOS on more and more devices, and as the webOS community inevitably grows, these core users are unlikely to forget those developers who stuck by the platform when its future wasn’t so clear.

We’ve had some clear examples of developers who are not standing by webOS while it undergoes its transition:

  • Evernote: These folks were one of the first to develop a mainstream webOS app with their Evernote client, and things were looking good for ongoing support. However, they’re also one of the first developers, as far as I can tell, to use Palm’s challenges as an excuse to effectively abandon their webOS client—even to the point of keeping their app in the App Catalog with known serious, data-losing bugs. Already, many of the most influential webOS community members have abandoned Evernote and searched out—and publicized—alternatives. Evernote might assume that they’ll be able to jump back in once the webOS market explodes, but that could be a fool’s assumption. It also borders on cynical.
  • Dataviz: It’s been reported extensively and for some time now how Dataviz has refused to communicate their webOS intentions clearly, and now—given a likely purchase by RIM—they’ve completely abandoned webOS. They were given the opportunity to produce the document viewer client for webOS for the Pre’s launch in June, 2009, and since then the community has heard nothing but poor excuses for a lack of process. Their most recent statement was a real stab in the back to Palm, long-time Palm enthusiasts, and current webOS users.Quickoffice, though, perhaps the strongest competitor to Dataviz, has taken the opposite position, loudly announcing their enthusiasm for the platform and their plans to develop a strong set of document editing tools for webOS. Their support won’t be forgotten as webOS 2.0 is released and, presumably, their app becomes available for purchase soon after.

Many other developers, however, both mainstream and webOS-specific, have generated significant goodwill by producing and supporting outstanding webOS software regardless of the platform’s struggles. These developers have enjoyed some significant success, and they won’t be forgotten as the webOS community grows. Here are just a few examples:

  • Launch Partners: A number of developers were included in the launch of webOS, including Pandora, Chapura, Mark/Space, CompanionLink, Fandango, Handmark, uLocate, and others. Not all of them have updated their apps in some time, but most at least have maintained quality, bug-free apps in the App Catalog that are competitive with their versions on other platforms.
  • Glu Games, Gameloft, and EA: As a few of the companies given early access to the PDK environment, each of these developers have consistently put out a variety of quality games for webOS that were instrumental in proving it as a viable mobile gaming platform. Suffice it to say that without their early and firm support, webOS would be in a far worse place than it is today.
  • Astraware: These folks have been making great games for Palm devices for years, and have recently started porting their quality games to webOS following the public availability of the PDK. Their first games are outstanding, and they’ve promised a steady stream of ports.
  • Hexage: This is a smaller developer who has ported all of their games to webOS recently. They’re fun and unique, and prove that even smaller developers can quickly and easily support the webOS platform via the PDK. A favorite seems to be Radiant, which is in the $10,000 paid apps tier in the Palm Hot PDK Apps contest.
  • 10tons Ltd: Sparkle (#27 on the Hot Apps leaderboard), is a favorite of my wife’s. 10tons has a number of other nice games either on the way or already in the catalog.
  • Galcon Games: Made by Phil Hassey, Galcon is a favorite on a number of other platforms that was ported to webOS soon after the public release of the PDK. It’s #3 in the Hot PDK Apps contest, and moving up.
  • Rovio Mobile: Of course, no discussion of developers would be complete without mentioning Rovio Mobile, makers of the immensely popular iOS game Angry Birds. Since its release, Angry Birds has already moved into the #1 spot in the Hot PDK Apps contest, and has generated some controversy in the Android community for both coming first to webOS, and then performing so much better compared to the Android version. This is no knock against Rovio, of course—it’s really more a testament to how easy it is to port apps with the PDK.
  • webOS developers: There’s a long, long list of outstanding webOS-specific developers who have been there from the beginning and/or throughout the growth of webOS, and have created a stream of outstanding apps (both official and homebrew), patches, and utilities in spite of the uncertainties surrounding the future of the platform. One such developer, zhephree, maker of the outstanding webOS Foursquare and neato! apps, created a list of such developers that I’m going to take the liberty of copying here. These are Twitter names—be sure to follow them if you’re not already.
    @zhephree                @ingloriousapps
    @skirkster                  @funkatron
    @jaycanuck                @twtomcat
    @germboy                  @aeidataworks
    @superinhuman      @danielclark
    @palmflashcards     @hedami
    @nanplayer               @dev_suruat
    @millertech               @gomlsoftware
    @killinitllc                  @dvdmon
    @webosinternals    @rretsiem
    @sportsliveapps      @sportsliveapps
    @rmxdave                  @kylepjohnson
    @pre101                      @roneyii
    @syntactix                  @appstuh
    @rodtsampson         @mobiobie
    @simplebeta

    I’m sure that I’m missing a number of great webOS developers—this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, by any means. Perhaps the best place to get a taste for some more of the earliest and best webOs developers is by perusing the list of winners of the first Palm Hot Apps contest, as well as reviewing the leaderboard for the PDK contest.

    Update: Panagiotis points out a major omission in the comments: Jason Robitaille, developer of a variety of patches and applications including my personal favorite homebrew app, Internalz and, of course, WebOS Quick Install—which is probably used by more people than any other utility in kicking off their homebrew habits.

The point of all this is that there are a number of developers whose early commitment to the platform has seen the community through some very rough times. As HP and Palm release new devices, from smartphones to tablets to multifunction devices, the market will grow considerably and developers who have so far shunned webOS will suddenly be happy to jump on the bandwagon. The earliest developers, however, will have a special place in the hearts and minds of the webOS community. This site, and others I’m sure, will be certain to pay special attention to developers that have supported the platform from the beginning.

Post a comment if you have a developer that you’re particularly pleased with, or not so much.

Comments

  1. Panagiotis says:

    Don’t forget the greatest WebOS developer of them all – Jason Robitaille. Without his patches & apps WebOS wouldn’t have nearly the flexibility & power that it has today.

  2. more apps coming soon…

    @simplebeta

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