John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Palm’s PDK to Allow Easy Porting of iPhone Apps

Palm’s single biggest asset is webOS. Sadly, the company’s single biggest deficit–aside from the public’s apparent lack of interest in its smartphones–is the webOS application ecosystem. But that’s changing.

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, Palm (PALM) plans to release its webOS Plug-in Development Kit, a set of tools to help developers create graphics-intensive games.

Perhaps more important, the PDK will allow developers to rewrite mobile apps created for other platforms to run on webOS with minimal modification. Apps that currently run on Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, for example, can be ported over in a matter of days, sources close to the company tell me, and they don’t really suffer any degradation in performance.

That’s a compelling proposition for developers looking for additional distribution channels. And if enough of them take Palm up on it, we may see the current paucity of third-party webOS apps quickly head toward abundance.

If you’re tempted to raise an eyebrow over that statement, consider this: Since Palm announced the PDK at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, its early access partners–EA, Gameloft, Glu Mobile and Laminar Research–have cranked out close to three dozen games.

“The webOS experience has been smooth and user friendly,” Baudouin Corman, VP of Publishing, Americas, for Gameloft told me. “We’ve been pretty aggressive thus far with the number of games hitting the App Catalog, so it’s safe to say that we plan to continue this momentum for the remainder of the year….We’ve seen strong interest from Pre consumers for the kind of games we are releasing. WebOS is going to bring a lot of value and competition to the mobile space.”

That bodes well for Palm, which has almost certainly been hurt by deficiencies in its App Catalog. The webOS PDK could do much to grow the company’s developer ecosystem and give it the critical mass of high-quality third-party apps it needs to really gain traction in the smartphone space.