Palm Is Fooling Everyone

With the Palm Pre announcement, the media reacted as if this device was the second coming. Wall street also reacted in a similar way, shooting the stock up 35% immediately. Since then the stock is up around 75%, an amazing turnaround for a company swirling in the toilet. But what is so amazing here?

I have not used the device, but watched the announcement, plus other videos of the device in use. Sure there are some neat features:

  • Integrating the “cloud” (I hate that term) into the device to group data from different services into one convenient location (nothing groundbreaking)
  • Multitasking with a new paradigm based on a deck of cards (cool)
  • A gesture area below the visible screen (only innovative thing really)
  • Capacitive multi-touch (doesn’t Apple have patents on this?)
  • Copy and paste (whoopee)
  • Replaceable battery (whoopee)
  • An API based on HTML, javascript, and CSS (hmmm…)

It is this last point that has me confused. Palm touts it as expanding the developer community from a couple hundred thousand Palm developers to a couple million web developers. Wasn’t this Apple’s strategy from the early days of the iPhone – an AJAX “SDK”? Palm states they will not make the same mistakes as Apple (not in those words) and that their Mojo IDE will be different by allowing javascript access to low level areas of the underlying OS (some variant of GNU/Linux).

Well then, I see three huge problems with this:

  1. Web developers will not be able to get off and running in no time as Palm wants you to believe. There will be additional APIs that must be learned to make your application semi-useful. I’m sure Mojo will make this easy on you, but there will STILL be a learning curve.
  2. HTML, javascript, CSS can produce some interesting effects, but these technologies are still extremely limited. Look at the web apps we got for the iPhone. The best of the bunch being facebook or bejeweled. Palm is eating their own dogfood and producing the native apps based on these technologies, but watch the demos closely and you’ll see that the interfaces are crap. This leads me to the third point.
  3. What about games? Let’s see Centipede done in HTML, javascript, and CSS. There will have to be some sort of animation engine baked in for these types of games to even be possible. Flash? Silverlight? OpenGL ES? Whatever route is chosen, Pandora’s box will be opened and this base of a couple million web developers will be dramatically reduced.

Why aren’t these questions being asked? Why do we get dead silence when Jobs announces this strategy and Wall Street going nuts when Palm is trying the same thing? And don’t get me going on the security nightmare this could be.

Anyone know something about this I don’t?

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