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Drama of the Palm Pre App Catalog Karishma Sundaram | , 8:27 p.m. Oct. 6, 2009 2009-10-06

Palm Pre has been in the news quite a bit lately, with the launch of their paid applications store. Long time coming, now application developers can upload their products quickly and reach a much wider consumer base than if they operated on their own. Surprisingly, the Palm Pre webOS App Catalog has arrived much later than expected, considering the phone itself was released a long time ago.

The first inkling of the Palm Pre store was the update notification the phone owners received. It stated that there was a new update available for the phone’s operating system. However, the update was a whopping 79 MB and the download would take place over a number of days, whenever the phone was not in use and there was a high speed Internet connection immediately available. Although it hardly qualifies as an announcement, the update message did hint at a potential application store being launched. 

It did get launched finally, and the first application to be featured on the store’s virtual shelves was Air Hockey. Apparently timeless and fun for all ages, it is unclear whether Palm intended to get a laugh out of their consumers or that was really the only paid application ready for release. Possibly the idea was to put forward a relatively inexpensive application at first, and is perhaps a small part of an elaborate marketing strategy. 

Palm Pre then gained quite a bit of street credentials when it disclosed its new policy towards the applications and the developers in turn. The developers could make the choice of whether or not they want to use the platform of the App Catalog to showcase their applications and, from thereon, distribute their products. While this itself was a startling departure from the currently established norm (read: currently established by Apple), the surprises didn’t end there. The developers can submit an application to Palm, who will then waive the screening process and in return provide them a link from which they can distribute the application. A collective sigh of relief and amazement must have gone up in the Palm Pre development community because each entry into the App Catalog costs them $50. 

Palm also announced that the $99 annual charge levied on developers will be waived altogether; a move particularly aimed at open source developers. Palm has made all the right noises at the moment, considering the furore that Apple is creating in the development community with its high-handed tactics. 

However, the latest news with the Palm Pre application store is not good: developers will be much chagrined to learn that a number of people have found a way to download their paid apps absolutely free, thanks to a verification glitch in the App Catalog programming. All a person needed to do is create a ghost application for their Pre and endow it with the same name as the application available at the Catalog. They would then need to connect to the Catalog and download an ‘update’. Hey presto, the application is on the phone at no cost whatsoever. Palm reacted almost immediately, saying that the Catalog would be back up in a day. 

Surprisingly, it was.

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