Performance or simplicity?
The good news for Palm is that relatively few developers want to write that type of application for mobile; Almaer explains there’s also the option of tying apps more closely to the Palm platform in exchange for extra features. “The PDK also provides an on-ramp to native development. With the PDK, developers who are new to [mobile] platforms can bring titles to a marketplace that is more a greenfield and that combination is really exciting.”
As examples, he names game developers Electronic Arts and Glue: “Glue is an example of someone who was able with minimal effort to bring their games over from the iPhone in six days. That excites us because as much as we love the Web, we don’t want to tell you have to recode that from scratch. And then we have this Flash plug-in coming to our platform soon. That community is huge.”
“And from a high level,” Galbraith chips in, “what's exciting [about Flash] is that it’s resolution independent because it’s vector, it’s scaled graphics.” He’s realistic about whether HTML 5 will be replacing Flash any time soon: “HTML 5 has just become a catchall word for new Web development.”
It’s also important to remember that the smartphone is a mobile platform, with limited battery life. Galbraith claims “Our first focus is battery life. We have some technologies we hope to release soon to address that issue. We’re helping developers to batch up all the data into a single burst when you turn on the radio rather than sending it bit by bit. That's our primary focus, so you don’t hate us. Secondly, our focus is making those things as easily as possible for developers.”
Open Web, not one Web
Galbraith suggests that Palm developers will rarely be only Palm developers. “I think the majority of developers in the modern world will be targeting multiple devices. I think we’re at the dawn of the device explosion and what’s going to happen in the next few years is that more and more companies are going to get involved in this feud, this war. More developers are going to be whatever the programming equivalent of polyglot is on multiple devices.”
He believes Mobile Web implementations aren’t going to unify into one single platform any more than desktop Web implementations have – even when you factor in the open source, licence-free advantage of Android. “Although I think it’s definitely coming together, there's always going to be differences. You see the challenges of this with Android. You've got one company controlling the stack end-to-end and yet they can’t stop fragmentation; there will always be that tension.”