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Tech entrepreneur, executive, and investor; father of eight children; Googler.

Posts from the Palm Category

A Road Leading to the Clouds

Whoa. It seems to me only a few weeks have passed since I previously posted on my blog back during those first few crazy days at Palm when I jumped onto the moving train; somehow, it also feels like ten years ago. Being a part of the Palm story has been a whirlwind adventure. And now, that adventure takes a new form.

Starting Monday, Dion and I are leaving HP / Palm as full-time employees but staying involved with HP webOS in a consulting capacity. Our post on the Palm Developer Blog goes into more detail on this transition and look to Dion’s blog for his own perspective.

As for me, “bittersweet” perfectly describes my feelings at this juncture. Working alongside the talented team at Palm has been a tremendous opportunity, and the chapter being written now with HP is ripe with extraordinary potential. Leaving the company of this crew is certainly a bitter cup to swallow.

At the same time, I couldn’t be more excited to be starting a new venture with my good friend and colleague of many years, Dion Almaer. We’ll post more on the details of our new company soon, but we plan on spending our time creating quality software and helping others to do the same. A particular focus of ours will be to help folks realize high-quality mobile and desktop app and web experiences using HTML5, JavaScript, and related technologies.

What a fascinating time of change for our industry! The Web has been challenged as the dominant platform for mainstream consumer software experiences–though the contest with apps is far from over. The predicted mobile convergence (with the desktop) is happening now. Independent software developers are now re-empowered to earn a living at their craft in a new and interesting way–they join musicians, directors, writers, and other artists whose products command the attention of large swaths of the general public. The opportunity has always been there, but now the complexity of so much infrastructure required to distribute those experiences has been swept away (though the trade-off has not been without cost).

While at present we see a diverse set of incompatible software platforms competing for the right to distribute the produce of these new and revitalized app artisans and businesses, history tells us that consolidation of these platforms cannot be far in the distance. Reducing the number of app platforms in the marketplace–the “content formats” of the app world–is unquestionably a good thing for developers in the short-term. However, I hope that we can evolve to a place where the content format and device manufacturer are not irrevocably coupled. When you think about it, the status quo is comparable to a sort of bizarro world where, say, Sony MiniDiscs achieved unparalleled ubiquity but Sony never licensed the format to other device manufacturers.

Of course, this “bizarro world” I described is how the world played out in the last set of consumer software platform wars, but perhaps this time around a large set of developers will choose portable content formats and ensure that competition and innovation thrive for the next exciting decades to come. And hopefully, Dion and I can play a role in shaping that outcome.

More soon.

(* The analogies above aren’t perfect, of course; cut me some slack. 🙂 I’d love to write another post that goes into detail on the similarities and differences between traditional content media and interactive content, etc.)

There’s no better way to start our careers at Palm than by getting reamed by open-source pioneer and legend Jamie Zawinski, one of the driving forces behind the release of the Mozilla source code and someone we’ve talked about in recent months in another context.

While a blog post isn’t the right avenue to talk about all of the issues that Jamie brought up, we’re following-up with him directly and will bring it to a conclusion. We obviously goofed in how we communicated with Jamie, and Dion and I take some of the blame here as our staff had been waiting for us to come on-board to get to some of these items.

We do want to take this opportunity to clarify a few things and share with you a bit about where we at Palm are with our developer program.

Our App Catalog is very much in beta right now, precisely because we want to take time to get it right prior to a full consumer launch. We have been collecting a bunch of feedback from developers and it is helping us prioritize and structure the program. In the brief three months since the launch of the Palm Pre, we have learned a great deal from the community!

We’ve seen some folks assert that Jamie’s case indicates a general pattern at Palm that we don’t really care about developers and aren’t operating in a developer-friendly manner. While we undoubtedly have some work to do here, we hope that people do notice how we treat the “homebrew” community (e.g. PreCentral) and how our current SDK agreement calls out the inspectability and reusability of our own Palm applications. (By the way, several applications from the homebrew community have already made it into our App Catalog.)

While we have yet to finalize and announce our developer program, we hope these points demonstrate our general attitude of embracing developers and empowering them. We’re trying to strike the right balance between locking down our device and making it a free-for-all. Like all great things, this will be an iterative process and we are eager and open to your participation and input to make it better for everyone.

We are sorry that Jamie feels the way he does, but we’ll fix what’s broken and are going to deliver a fantastic opportunity to developers as they in turn help create a fantastic experience to users.

We have a lot more to say on this topic, so watch this space. Dion and I are part of the developer community; we’re listening to what y’all say and we’ll speak up and participate in discussions.

And hey, look for an announcement soon that goes into more details on our developer program.