I have had a steady drip of requests since the Palm Pre launched for a webOS version of our software. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about the platform, what I think Palm is doing right and wrong, and relate that to our own software products FastFigures and powerOne.
First, let me say that I like what Palm is doing with the Pre from a developer perspective except one major flaw. A year ago I wrote a post on the recipe for beating Apple and highlighted three things that the company needed to do. Palm has nailed two of the three:
- Build a beautiful, touchscreen device.
- Make it synchronize with web-based applications.
- Focus on offline use of web-based applications.
Palm is flubbing #3.
What’s missing — and what Palm insists it doesn’t need — is the underlying technology that handles the business-side of web applications. Developers use a multitude of server-side technologies to do this, including Ruby on Rails, PHP, .net, and Python. Most mobile platforms use either C or Java to handle the business logic.
Palm insists it doesn’t need anything. And this is a major mistake.
Palm’s perspective is that applications that need business logic should interface with the web, such as Google’s search engine. Except an application like ours works best when the calculation is resident on the device, not because the calculations are better but because our customers don’t trust the Internet connection with their devices. There are just too many holes.
So what do our customers do when it comes to the Pre? They can either use the Classic emulator, which we don’t officially support but seems to run our software without a problem according to customers who have tried it, or use the web-based version of FastFigures at http://www.fastfigures.com/mobile. Either way, if you want our products on Pre, please drop us an email so we know.
And hopefully in the future, Palm will realize their mistake and give us a business logic language to work with. For now, though, I won’t hold my breath.