Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Editorial: Palm App Store 2.0

I was about to write up a review of Palm's new App Store when I saw that TreoCentral's Annie Latham has a well written review posted. Rather than rehash what has already been written, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit my vision for an integrated, wireless, cloud based solution from Palm in which a Palm app store is a critical componant along site a Palm customer service portal along the lines of the myPalm.com beta.

As you can see from the screen shots below, the App Store icon launches a web page that is the same on a Palm OS Treo or Centro as it is on a Windows Mobile Treo. The web app solution gets Palm around a problem that they had previously had with the myPalm application which was that it was only for Palm OS handhelds and smartphones. (This was because the previous myPalm app store was based on the Bluefish Wireless AddIt application that Palm has included with their PDAs and smartphones since late 2003.) Now all of Palm's customers can join in on the buy-it-on-the-go fun. I wrote about why I think Palm needs an integrated on device application store in the 1SRC.com editorial, "Palm Needs an App Store."



















(Tapping the green App Store icon lauches a web URL to the online Palm App Store which contains some 5,000 combined Palm OS and Windows Mobile applications.)

The app store that I envisioned when I wrote that editorial operated more like Appl'e App Store and the older myPalm AddIt application that Latham wrote about on TreoCentral here. I would like to see Palm provide an integrated solution. The web based app store will download and install the Palm OS or Windows Mobile application installer over the air (OTA) to your device and that is really cool and simple for novice users to get apps on to their devices. But what happens when the device gets hard reset? Palm needs to make sure that it is easy for customers to access their unlock codes, serial numbers, and installers. An integrated solution would make this possible. One solution could be similar to the now defunct myPalm.com portal where customers would login to a Palm customer service portal and be able to access their purchased software and find their serial numbers. An alternateive or companion option would be to use some of the features of also defunct Palm Backup application where the software prompts users to login to the Palm portal server and then be able to redownload and install their software. All over the air without the need to sync to a Windows or Mac OS X desktop computer.

This leads me back to a cloud computing portal solution that I suspect that Palm could have been looking at before the economey took a turn for the worse. A Palm solution similar to Apple's Mobile Me offering could offer a spot to sync your PIM data to, manage OTA device backup and restores along site OTA software download and installation. A small desktop application for Windows and Mac OS X could plug-in to the cloud portable to provide a similar destkop experience that we have today only without the hassle of having to deal with wired data synchronization and USB device drivers.

In conclusion, I think that Palm has all the pieces for a new cloud based solution. The question now is when can it be implemented. Palm clearly has all hands on deck to ensure that Palm OS II / Nova is successfully launched on new hardware. Will a new cloud portal solution go live at the the same time that Nova does? What about Windows Mobile? Will the software be developed for Windows Mobile Professional 5 and 6; or will Palm focus on a new integrated on device application of Windows Mobile 7? My guess is that Palm will focus new software devlopment on Nova and Windows Mobile 7 while existing devices can still access the PocketGear web app store that Palm recently rolled out.

Now that integrated, cloud based solution (desktop to device wireless sync, customer service portal, and OTA application installs and backups) is one that I'm looking forward to. It has the potential to reduce the toubleshooting and support issues around USB drivers and data synchronization; it will give customers easy access to new applications for their devices; and all of their information (PIM data, purchased software, and device backups) can be easily accessed from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Let me know what you think by using the comments link below.
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