The PreCentral Interview: Richard Kerris, VP of Worldwide Developer Relations | webOS Nation
 
 

The PreCentral Interview: Richard Kerris, VP of Worldwide Developer Relations 76

by Dieter Bohn Mon, 28 Feb 2011 11:10 am EST

Back at Mobile World Congress we had an opportunity to sit down with Richard Kerris, the new VP of Worldwide Developer Relations for the Palm Global Business Unit. He has some pretty big shoes to fill after the departure of Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer but, from what we can tell, Kerris has the combination of pragmatism and personality to do just that (for the record, he only had one pair of shoes on). 

Our talk ranged from the difficult SDK transition that webOS developers face in 2011 to how HP plans to bring on big-name developers to the opportunity in Enterprise. One thing that Kerris did clarify for us is that HP does not intend to just make apps for other companies and hand them over as previously reported - instead they will have "SWAT teams" of in-house webOS developers they can send out to companies to assist their development efforts.

Kerris is not intimidated by the Microsoft-Nokia partnership, saying that he doesn't "see much compelling in the Windows Phone-Nokia environment from a developers' standpoint." While Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has declared that it's a three-horse race between Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone, Kerris obviously demurs, pointing out that webOS offers a less-fragmented solution than what he anticipates Windows Phone will become.

In the Enterprise space, Kerris is also not intimidated by BlackBerry's foothold. He believes that TouchPad will have the necessary security features at launch to make it acceptable to corporate customers, that HP's enterprise inroads will lead to significant opportunity, and that for Enterprise developers "we have a way better offering than you do with BlackBerry."

For those in the webOS developer fold, Kerris didn't try to gloss over the fact that the transition from Mojo development to Enyo Development may be bumpy for some, but "We’re going to do whatever we can to help developers through that transition." 

There's plenty more (including his favorite webOS app, at least on the day we asked). Grab a cup of coffee (it's a long one, folks) and read on!

PreCentral: I feel like the thing to tell developers that have current webOS apps right now, is that the transition from Mojo to Enyo, it seems like it’s going to be a little shaky.

Richard Kerris: It is.

PreCentral: There’s nothing for it other than to say…

RK: We’re trying desperately, internally to see what we can do to remedy that situation, because Enyo provides a new framework, a better framework and again, it’s not that we’re in a sprint; we’re in a marathon. And if you look at what it buys you over time it going to be way better off. Like I said, the first initial road is going to be a bit bumpy. And we recognize that, and I’d rather tell them that up front, and I’m pushing on engineering to solve the problem one way or another. Hopefully they will. We’ve got some things that we’re kicking around right now, but rather than say what they are, I want to make sure that they’re solid.

[...] We’re going to do whatever we can to help developers through that transition. In fact, that’s helping them with marketing, helping them transition their app and whatever that takes.

[...] I’m confident we’re going to have a solution. Is it going to be a smooth easy going thing? Probably not. But it’ll be better than what it was, and the payoff in the long run will be better even then.

PreCentral: The accusation’s out there that you’re abandoning the current webOS developer base, “Screw you guys, we have something new and faster.” I don’t really buy that.

RK: Not at all.

PreCentral: But I am curious, what other stuff are you doing to bring on new developers, to Enyo directly. So you’re not just catering to the base, but going straight to the new guys. And I’m specifically wondering about the big name developers and partnerships.

RK: So there’s a couple questions in there, let me start from the first one. I think our current developers are phenomenal. I’ve had such a great welcome, and a vocal one, since joining the company, that shows me a passion and energy I have not seen in many years of working with developers. They’re adamant that I understand the situation, and I’ve been very upfront the best thing I could be doing right now is listening to what they have going on and what they’ve gone through to get where they’re at. But that passion and intensity has got to carry forward with us. They are our best evangelists. If I can get us to do right by those existing developers who have hung in there through thick and thin, they’re going to go out and tell even more developers, and they’re going to be our best army that we can have for expanding our user base at the small company level.

Our relationship that we have with HP, and what putting webOS on the Windows environment, can hope to do for us, can actually give us a footprint bigger than anybody else that’s out there. Now, we’ve got to figure out what that looks like and how that’s going to unfold, but if you can conceive of webOS being on every PC that HP ships, then you’re talking tens of millions of people that are going to have a webOS client that can run your app, somebody else’s app.

Now I have an argument to go talk to the big companies who are already drained on resources in other environments and say “Look at our opportunity that we present to you,” the business case is going to help justify that. I don’t think we’re going to have a problem getting those big apps to see that.

If you’re an imaging application, and you want to know that you’re talking to printers and you’re talking to the imaging environments and professionals that are out there and now you say “Look, I’m going to be on printers and on the desktop computers and laptop computers,” you’d be a fool not to look at this environment and say “Wow, supporting this is not a whole lot of rocket science, it’s just an addition,” an ‘and’ rather than an ‘or,’ to what they’re currently doing today. But the upside could be phenomenal.

PreCentral: The PC specifically, I have a hunch of how you guys are going to make this work. [...] So it’s interesting, because in a way that you’re going to be going to developers and offering them a solution that instead of telling them you’re developing a Windows app, because they’ll run it on webOS on the PC and on mobile at the same time. Is that going to cause tension? Do you talk to Windows developers?

RK: We’re not looking at it as an either/or. It’s more of an addition. You can use Enyo and develop and deploy on multiple platforms. Competitive platforms. So it’s a really beautiful environment for developers to work in. I don’t think we’re going to see Microsoft put Office on webOS, but I do think the people who use Office will have webOS apps running alongside it, and it would make sense. Because if you’re doing something and you’ve got a webOS thing that you want to tie into with Synergy with your other devices, why not? It’s a great add-on.

PreCentral: With PDK apps, is the framework that you can use any code, is that going to be the same with webOS 3 on the TouchPad?

RK: That’s the plan, that you can do PDK or webapp or hybrid of both.

PreCentral: This is me getting into technical talk, and I’m kind of stupid about this. When I look at Mojo code and I’m listening to the message that if you can do web stuff, you can do webOS stuff. I’m like “That makes sense. It looks like web code to me.” When I look at Enyo code, it does not look like web code. It looks like program, like JavaScript basically. Something a little bit more complicated than what we’re used to. Does Enyo change your message about who you’re targeting, how much you need to learn in order to develop for webOS?

RK: I’ve certainly not heard it been phrased as more difficult. Other modern web frameworks have gone exclusively to javascript as well - Sencha Touch, Cappuccino, etc. This is the new web. Web does not mean HTML markup.

Developers will still deal with markup when creating custom controls. This is more web and less webOS-specific than Mojo, and closer to the true promise of webOS. This will become more clear with an announcement we have teed up shortly.

PreCentral: It looks more elegant, and I’ve listened to you describe it and it seems to work better.

RK: The folks that I’ve talked to in the developer community, and I’ve talked to a lot even in the past couple of days, they all feel that there’s an elegance in the design of the framework, and there’s a capability that gives them a business advantage above and beyond just developing for one environment that we’ve actually taken into consideration. If you’re developing in Enyo and you want to deploy it on other devices, we allow you to do that.

PreCentral: Do you know if you’re going to be offering the new TouchPad Touch-to-Share [API]?

RK: Making that available for developers? That is our goal. Whether that’ll be in the initial release or not we’re still figuring out. One of the things that we are completely adamant about internally is everything we do is going to be done with tools that our available to developers. We are eating our own dog food. And even though it might not be day one that that capability is there, that is completely our intent. Look what you could do with that with game developers and stuff like that. I envision that there’s going to be a lot of cool stuff that developers will do with that.

PreCentral: [Will you use the] Veer or Pre 3?

RK: Pre 3. Although, I’ll probably be spoiled and have them all. I love the Veer as a hotspot and it’s small enough to be with me anywhere, but when I have work to do, on an Enterprise level, I think the Pre 3 is awesome. [...] That’s where I think our biggest competitive advantage is – the enterprise market.

PreCentral: I’m really glad you brought this up. I had a huge rant that I thought that late 2011 we would see the fight move from the consumer space to the enterprise space.

RK: Yeah, definitely. We know enterprise.

PreCentral: Android is finally going to get their stuff together, Apple is coming in, and RIM’s really vulnerable. What’s your story there? One of the things that holds companies to RIM, beyond they don’t want to take the time to transition away from [RIM's] Enterprise Servers, there’s also BBM, which is another issue, but then they also work a lot of custom apps. What’s your strategy for going after these enterprise companies?

RK: Our new big brother in this case knows enterprise pretty well. The largest and most relied-on enterpise company in the world is HP. And we are now aggressively meeting and discussing what our advantage is going to be in that competitive space. And we got a few things that have been written up already, but what we want to do is complete the picture. And then go make sure that we have all the right offerings there. But I think we have a way better offering than you do with BlackBerry.

With us, one development environment is all. Our goal is that if you’re going to develop on the Pre 3, it’ll work on the tablet. If you’re going to develop in the tablet, it’ll work on the Veer. So I think we’ve got a great value proposition there.

The issue we’ve got to solve from an enterprise perspective is security. So what are we going to do to make sure we have the most secure device in the industry? Solving the enterprise space with regards to building their own networks and then building apps on top of those networks. There’s a lot more web developers out there than there are BlackBerry developers out there. So if an enterprise is moving into that space, chances are they’re going to have a much better time building a development team around web technologies than they are going to building a team around anything else

PreCentral: How long do you think it will be before you can get the security story for webOS to a place where enterprise feels comfortable? I think that’s one of the reasons that the PlayBook doesn’t have an email client. They’re like “We can’t get it done quickly enough and get the security certifications for it in order to put it on the device,” so they’re tethering to the BlackBerry with that weird set-up. You guys aren’t doing that, but how quickly do you think you’re going to be able to get all that security up?

RK: Because of our experience with enterprise in HP, I think we’ll get there by the time of release. That’s why we’re not afraid to show email clients and things like that. That’s our intent, and if there was anything different then we would let people know ahead of time. We’re not going to try to pull the wool over people’s eyes, but we have the best experience enterprise company in the world behind us. If we can’t figure this out, I’m doubtful anyone can.

PreCentral: A developer wanted me to ask if you’re going to be offering hardware to developers before release so that they can test their apps.

RK: We’re definitely looking at what we can provide to developers ahead of release, whether it’s providing them the actual hardware or labs that they can come to and actually work on the hardware, we’ll have some sort of a solution. It depends on how our build process goes, but if we can’t provide hardware in developers’ hands, we’re going to do our best to provide labs that they can come to and work on those devices.

PreCentral: Can you tell me anything about this program that I read about where HP is developing apps directly and sort of giving it to companies?

RK: There was a bit of confusion. So, what we’re going to do is build what I call a “SWAT team.” A SWAT team is going to be some really great web and PDK developers that are part of our world. [...] By having this SWAT team internal, we’re going to develop sample code, but more importantly than that, we’re going to be able to deploy them out to developers who may not have the experience of our platform yet and we’ll airdrop them in to that developer and they’ll spend time with them. Not only training them on what they can do, but by hand showing them stuff they can do and then leaving it with the developer.

PreCentral: So it’s not that Hulu doesn’t have the time to make the app, so you’ll make the Hulu app and say “Now it’s yours.”

RK: No… that’s a short-lived strategy. Our strategy is train the trainer. And the better way of doing that is if you’re a developer, and your resources are strained right now because you’ve got two different platforms, and “I’d love to, but I just don’t have the resources.”

“Tell you what, we’re going to put somebody in there and help you out, they’ll get your team up and going. You’ll see the benefits of what we have to offer, and then we’ll back away - now it’s yours.” Now, from time-to-time they may develop some internal apps that we may want to showcase, and we’ll give those away and we’ll open source them and we’ll do whatever we can to provide that we can open source from an IP standpoint. The goal is to augment and embellish what’s going on out there, we would never want to compete with a developer.

[...] This is a strategy that I’ve used before and I’m very comfortable with it, and the developers that have worked with us in the past love it. It’s how to go from zero to a hundred in as fast a time as possible. I’m going to put some star players in the field and they’re going to help you and then they’ll head off and the developer keeps everything. It’s nice and clean.

PreCentral: I feel like you are the person in charge of making sure webOS succeeds or fails [in that he's in charge of getting developers on board]

RK: Ha! No.

PreCentral: Let me give the context. With the Nokia-Microsoft deal, Elop said “It’s a platform battle.” He once said it’s a three-horse race, which is funny. You want it to be at least a four horse race. Do you feel like going to easily overcome that? [...] These are the big guys and you’re not really worth [a developer's] time to go after?

RK: I don’t see much compelling in the Windows Phone-Nokia environment from developers’ standpoint.

PreCentral: Really?

RK: No, I think that there’s more exciting stuff happening in other areas, and its stuff that we can learn from and aspire to. I think that what we bring to the table is a much newer and from the ground up operating system built for the next generation of the web.

I don’t see my role as more or less important than anybody else that’s on our team. We all have a job to do, everybody knows what it is. I’m happy that there’s been so much attention on the developer community, but that starts with great tools and great products. Once you have those things, it’s getting the developers and getting the word out, and helping the developers be successful is how you do that. But if you don’t have great tools and operating system to start with, I don’t care what you have, you cant’ get out of the gate. I’ve talked to people using both Windows and Nokia, there are very few jumping up and down saying it’s the best thing ever.

PreCentral: Well, it’s not that bad. You can use some of the same tools you to develop for other platforms, like Xbox Live stuff, and there are the Silverlight tools.

RK: Sure, there’s nice things, but if you’re on Windows side: who’s going to get a better deal: Nokia or HTC or some other hardware manufacturer yet to be named?. If I’m a developer, I’m already wondering, “What’s the advantage to me?” I would have to support and test each hardware device… that gets costly.

PreCentral: It really depends on whether or not they can make good on their claim that they’re not going to fragment.

RK: They just announced a really big deal in front of a really big audience. If you don’t think Nokia’s gonna have some kind of advantage for that, then what did they do it for? Just to hang on? No, I think they’re going to try to make a play in order for them to stand out from the others. The problem is when you’re trying to serve so many clients out there, you have the inevitable problem that Android has: it’s really hard to provide the customer a consistent experience across all of your offerings. There are a lot of great phones out there, but not all of them run the exact same way – customers shouldn’t be the ones having to search for them.

That’s something that’s a problem from the customer point of view, and I think that that customer experience is going to be the thing that drives them to [the competition], whether that’s the experience at an enterprise level or at some level they want to be confident in what that ecosystem provides. Long term, I think we have a really good advantage that we have that ecosystem. Wide open, but if you’re buying our device, it’s our environment, you can be sure you’re going to get the best out of it. Confidence.

PreCentral: We haven’t talked about it much, but you say we’re not as fragmented as those other platforms, but the average user on our forums would say, “Yeah, you are now.” You’re going to have webOS 2.1 devices, or 2.0 devices, and you’ll have devices that can’t get past 1.4.5 that aren’t that old.

RK: That’s an inevitable bump, but I’ve been upfront about that. We’ve got to get past that to go forward. The question is: when you make a tough decision, you have to make it looking that you’re in a marathon, not a sprint. There’s always been times in technology’s history where you had to make a cut and not a pleasant one. But you have to make a cut in order to bring new technology and new hardware into the environment that goes with better support. So you can work really hard and spend all your resources being backwards compatible, or you can tell that group, “We’ll help you carry over that hurdle, but by doing so we’re going to be able to go much further and most important, much faster.” When people understand what that means, I have yet to find somebody who says it’s a bad ideaWe’re not out to make developers upset, we’re out to [make] developers successful. And there is a long road ahead of us, for everyone.

I love hearing from the developer community. If there’s stuff that we can do with a regular dialog it’s to make sure we’re not missing anything; the biggest goal I have right now is to hear and listen and learn from the developers who are out there and make sure that we are taking their thoughts into consideration as we plan and go forward with our products and technology.

[...] Everybody chases all the big developers that are out there, and certainly we want to work with them. However, five years ago, nobody knew who Rovio (Angry Birds) was, nobody knew who Twitter was, and very few knew who Facebook was. They were small developers that were able to go big. The world is full of a lot of those types of, things happening all the time I like to think that somewhere in the world right now there’s a kid that’s going to start being a programmer. I want him or her to be on our platform, I want them developing in our environment, and I want to help them be incredibly successful.

PreCentral: What do you think is the best kind of app, category of app, to make for webOS?

RK: I think it’s one that takes advantage of everything Synergy has to offer. Gaming, social, location-aware, augmented reality, all of those things mixing into together, I think that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of what that is. We’re the only device out there that seamlessly integrates all the parts, we don’t make you plug into a computer when you use our devices. We don’t make you manually sync when you use our devices. With that in mind, we’re truly a cloud operating system. So what does that mean from a applications standpoint, what can you be assured of, whether it’s sharing high scores or interacting with someone, I venture to say that tying into Synergy is probably the key. I can’t wait to see what they do with it. The funnest part of my job is getting to see all the great stuff the developers come up with.

PreCentral: What’s your favorite app right now?

RK: It changes daily! I really like Bad Kitty, but now the Carbon guys sent me a note that “You ought check out Carbon!” Carbon is really nice. Ask me next week and I’ll have something else. We have over 6 thousand apps and we’re growing quickly. There’s lots to explore!

Thanks Richard for the interview! Thanks also to Derek Kessler for contributing to this story

76 Comments

He talks about the "bump", and the "cut", and having to move forward, then he says he wants to tell that group "we'll help you carry over that hurdle". Then he makes it clear he's talking about developers. Not a word about the loyal user base with the legacy devices that are going to be "cut". There are two sides to the market - you need developers, but you NEED CONSUMERS, and apparently we aren't on the radar.

Well, duh, he's the VP of DEVELOPER Relations, not Customer Relations

Speaking of that does HP actually have Customer Relations? If so they better start speaking else HP will have one less Customer Relationship.

WebOS Internals has taken care of the "loyal user base". Every day Rod and team are making it easier and easier to update your legacy device. Read some of the forums, exciting stuff. You could get 2.1 on your legacy device lickity splits, no sh**.

ooo yeah? is it safe yet? the P/C guys were saying it was a risky move

It would be great, if we could get support for Qt and have a swat team make an app for Alien Dalvik so we can run android google maps and android e-mail on webOS.

I'm not sure what the advantage of Android email is? Unless you mean the threaded layout of Gmail, which is kind of cool, though easily confusing, too.

Personally, after 4 months of Android, coming back to WebOS and ONE email program (instead of Gmail and Yahoo on Android) is pretty nice. When I want the threads in gmail, it is always there on my laptop.

I don't know what Alien Dalvik is, but I am sure glad that I know longer have to worry about clearing the regular cache, AND the Dalvik cache, and getting an aGPS download just to use my GPS!

WebOS' big advantage, to me, is the seamless interface. Using the phone as a tool while I see patients or drive down the road, not struggling to figure out the formula to use the d*n phone successfully!

(I have an Android Samsung Epic "superphone" that is now a very nice looking large GAME box, while my tried and true svelte Pre is back to work.)

So give WebOS a chance - I think the Email program will mature, just as the Calendar program has (try the Uber Calendar patch!) so that you may not miss the Android apps for long.

I'll take webOS email over Android email every day of the week. Android is pretty dumb in this area IMO.

You can get Qt running on webOS. It's available on homebrew currently.

Good article overall, but he rather glossed over the fragmentation issue.

Yeah, yeah. They’ve been very upfront in saying that 1.4.5 based products won’t get an update. Fine. But they haven’t really said much about what happens the next time they want to “move forward.” What framework have they put into place to keep this from happening again? Is Enyo all they’ll ever want in the future?

My Pre+ won’t get flash. 1 year into my next contract, will my Pre3 be in a similar boat?

-Suntan

These are the inherent risks you take buying an piece of hardware.

Lesson is: buy it because you like it TODAY not because you'll like it when it gets update.

While I was disappointed my Pre- won't be getting the update, I think I'll make it.

It's obvious we can no longer trust Palm to offer updates, so yes we have to be smart as consumers now and just buy for the capabilities offered now, rather than later. But before this fragmentation many (including Palm) touted webOS's updates as a differentiator and selling point.

2.0 brings a lot of the promised features like Flash and various API's, so now the new devices are a slightly easier sell. But Dieter had it right when he said "I feel like you are the person in charge of making sure webOS succeeds or fails [in that he's in charge of getting developers on board]" because that's what will determine its life-span.

your Pre+ may get flash if you really want it.
but you have to do some Meta-Doctor magic by yourself. :-)

Problem was, Product cycle was way too long.
1 year ago your new device should have been a Pre2, not a Pre+ with Hardware from early 2009.

then the decision wouldn't have been so tough. early adopters will have their 2year-contract renewed this year and get a new device, so i don't have any problem with that.

I'll get my Pre3 end of summer when my contract is running out.....

I like this guy alot. Seems less of a cheerleader like all the other big names i've heard from recently and more like a stand up guy willing to put actually effort into his job. Also everyone needs to not get up in arms HP/Palm already said they are working on making things right. So I have a feeling they will help us get us on board with the new hardware to the loyal few still clinging on.

"you’re in a marathon, not a sprint..."

Ouch - poor choice of words :-) Well, at least he didn't say "We're not doing a sprint, we're looking toward the horizon..."

the bottom line.. "we are in a Marathon" suggests they are looking at 100 to 500 million customer potential, so developers count & CURRENT customers do not count for much! Face reality, switch or hang on, as it does not really matter to anyone except maybe Sprint!.
Oh well, anothe day another 10 million phones....

PreCentral: What do you think is the best kind of app, category of app, to make for webOS?

RK: I think it’s one that takes advantage of everything Synergy has to offer. Gaming, social, location-aware, augmented reality....

Oh, yeah, gaming, Facebook, and location-aware social networking are just HUGE with the Enterprise crowd... ;-)

HP: Start Small, Think Big, Go Beyond.

Decisive Decisions Marketing, LLC

Visit us online at www.DecisiveDecisionsMarketing.com

If HP really wants to take enterprise away from RIM, then they will need to build a more robust device, because there is no way the Pre series could stand up to the way military people abuse their Blackberries! Never cared for the Blackberry UI but they are/were tanks and could stand up to abuse, much like the Treo's of old too. THAT's the device I want in my pocket.

that is true - I just bought a rubber bumper for my Pre, as it needs to last until summer and the Pre3 comes out, now.

The Pre 2 feels pretty sturdy.

My pre- got ran over by a car and you can't even tell, all I had for protection was an invisible shield.

I think it is an advantage not needing to learn too many env't-specific programming languages, etc. I am the world's biggest NOOB for developing, and I am just getting back to WebOS after a 4 month wander in the jungle of Android. But, I want to do some medical and RV apps;

Therefore, since I am by nature as lazy as water looking for the easiest route to the ocean, I think the idea of just needing to learn Javascript/JSON and not needing to learn as much HTML code is kind of nice. Also, being able to run the same app on Desktop and my Pre3 will be SWEET for keeping track of OB and hospice patients, IF HP can deliver the goods for encryption (which is NOT there on Android, for bedside-type medical apps).

I think the HP guy nailed it for professional users like me - develop/use on a secure platform that will work on tablet, desk, and phone, with ONE language and program. Touch the phone to the laptop or TouchPad, and transfer the patient list, no internet involved...

Count me in! The Javascript book is in the mail from Amazon.com.....

There's two typos: twice he said:
"it’s not that we’re in a sprint; we’re in a marathon."

It should be:

"It's not that we're on Sprint; we're in a marathon."

very funny -- I see what you did there.

Dieter

When you end a question with, "I don’t really buy that", you've stopped being a journalist and become a H/Palm apologist.

You and H/Palm can continue to pretend that Feb 9 didn't disappoint and anger the loyal user base and developers, but it doesn't make it go away.

So if I was not angry or disappointed on Feb 9th, does that make a H/Palm apologist?

And what would make "it" go away?

His comment by no means indicates that he thinks it didn't disappoint the current user base or developers.

His "I don't really buy that" comment was in reference to the fact that some people think HP is abandoning the current developer base in switching to Enyo. He was simple saying he doesn't agree with that reasoning. He was laying the foundation to say that while he doesn't buy that reasoning, he is still curious to know what HP intends to do to get NEW developers on the platform, which is something that HP definitely needs to focus on.

I can tell that you're bitter about the announcement and not happy with it and I think that is clouding your comprehension of the statement.

I was out waiting in line on 06/06/09 to get a Pre and still have one, so as a loyal user, I can say that while I don't necessarily like the announcements, I can appreciate the tough calls they've had to make and I understand that they are doing what they think is best to move the platform forward.

I don't think you can ask for any more than that.

Bravo Roy!

Thanks :-)

This interview wasn't about consumers. Hence, this was the interview with the Developer Relations guy.

Read it more carefully. He is basically saying that the new development environment is not abandoning current DEVELOPERS. It's not a statement about consumers at all. I initially had the same reaction you did, but then read more carefully what he said, and what Dieter said was reasonable ... about DEVELOPERS.

I like him.

The question I would have asked, right after he explained the "confusion" about developing apps for others was how did that confusion happen? The developing apps for others was pretty much of a direct quote from HP so where was the miscommunicaiton and is this related at all to the miscommunications regarding webOS updates and release of hardware. Is there a problem with one hand at HP knowing what the other is doing???

That's probably HP's biggest problem.

Honestly, Palm and HP are all talk. They need to quit making promises and just start delivering. Actions speak much louder than words.

The talk needs to take place so they can get to the point where they can deliver. Also, I don't know if you noticed Richard's job title, but it is "VP of Worldwide Developer Relations". That title insinuates that a large part of his responsibility is communication. Based upon this interview, that is exactly what he's doing, he's talking, open and honestly, about HP's plans for webOS in terms of the developer community. How else do you get people on board?

It's quite obvious that you're bitter about the announcement and about the way things are going as far as the hardware. I'm not saying that I think everything is rosy, but do you honestly think HP wants this to fail? Do you honestly think that they could have the devices out in three weeks but they are just choosing to hold off until "summer" because they want to?

Please stop acting like HP and Palm are the enemies.

You couldn't be more wrong. I switched carriers happily as soon as the Pre 2 was *finally* available on Verizon, did you? What I'm fed up with is the phrase "coming soon." Ship it or zip it!

EXACTLY "ship it or zip it". has it not become clear to HP that in this market you don't wanna blow your load too quickly?... however, whether or not they announced it now or in a few months, it still wouldn't b coming till summer. i suppose im happier knowing now and having to wait till then to get it than having them stilllll holding out on us, announcing it in june and shipping it in july. ooor maaayb they are playing games with us and it will b shipping in april :D

"I suppose I'm happier knowing now and having to wait till then to get it than having them stillllll holidng out on us..."

You seem to agree with the "ship it or zip it" statement and then, with the above quote, completely contradict yourself.

And that's my point (to you as well reidme): what good would it do them to hold off saying anything until this summer right before the products are released? I don't like the time frame for releasing the hardware either but I don't think sitting on the announcement for another 3-4 months would do them any bit of good. By that point everyone will have completely forgotten about the platform.

I guess the main thing I don't understand is why you're complaining about them talking instead of doing in this particular article. This article is all about explaining their plans for the developer community moving forward. This is exactly the time that they need to be talking about it, BEFORE they do it so developers know where they are at. As for the hardware itself, that's a different store but it doesn't make sense to complain about it here.

I'll admit it was a reflex reaction. When I hear anyone from Palm talk about the future now I quit listening and reach for the salt shaker, but it wasn't always that way. They've earned it.

Well, I can't argue there. Let's just hope that in 3-4 months we're loving our new webOS products and none of this will matter...

Amen. In fact, I'm loving my Pre 2 right now.

I don't think the zipping has anything to do with it. What we need is the shipping. They could stay silent or announce, but nothing changes the fact that there is no good Palm phone for sale now, and that there won't be for a loooooong time (if *ever*).

The Pre 3, when it finally comes out -- possibly as late as September -- will be way too little. If it came out now, it'd be a nice (although not cutting edge) phone, but not months from now.

The simple fact is that HPalm have done nothing but lie lie lie to us, their consumers. It is reasonable to have less than no faith in them.

At this point, the smart person expects disappointment. I will be happy to have my expectations not met.

i wasn't commenting on the article here, but on the post previous to mine in the hierarchy, thus why it is indented.... the reasoning behind the contradiction; it has been inherently obvious in this market that products shouldn't b announced until shipment can come soon after. however, HP is in a unique position; they have a community that is VERY outspoken, wants to know what the **** is going on and is constantly threatened to leave the brand unless it had some facts. so, as i agree that it (pre3) should have been announced much closer to shipment date, that date is much too far off from now and interest would have been completely lost. I'm guessing that they thought they had no choice but to announce much sooner than they really wanted to based on popular strategy... i hear that there is some sort of announcement this month? i wonder if its more hardware or them actually come out and saying that we are taking pre orders on the new harware cuz its rdy to go :)

Android delivers... junk!

There are so many unhappy people posting here. Get an Android superphone like I did. Find out that the videophone apps SUCK, the GPS and bluetooth work way worse than the Pre's, and the apps are good for the masses, but sparse and of low quality for specialized things like medicine.

to be fair, my wife's Samsung Acclaim, a middle-of-the-road Android 2.1 phone that can't even play Angry Birds, does work well. No front cam, though, so I guess doesn't qualify as a "modern" phone, even when it came out last summer. Of course, it STILL uses AOS 2.1, and probably will never be updated.

My Samsung Epic was a hardware joke, and the bluetooth problems and GPS problems were endemic to Galaxy S phones. The update to 2.1 took over 6 months, did not deliver all the features that were promised, and got pulled off of Sprint after a few days because it broke more than it fixed.

Face it - there is an incredible amount of technology in these little devices. I went back to Pre because I want something that WORKS, EASILY.

(ever had to flush BOTH caches just to get a GPS fix on your Pre. Does it have a cache to flush? Who cares, it doesn't even matter with the Pre!)

So yeah - count me as an HP WebOS fanboy, because feature bloat doesn't get the job done - good kit does.

PS - I am planning on taking a JavaScript class so that when I am not delivering babies or camping with my family, I can do a good job at developing WebOS medical, RV, and photo apps that sync to tablet and laptop with a tap. Count me as one of the excited new developers.

correction: Samsung delivers junk haha. their stuff is nice outta the box but its made rather cheap i think. the outer shells on the phones are made of what seems to be kindergarten toy plastic (i believe they did that cuz they assumed a higher failer rate on their phones' internals and when they referb phones the outer shell is the only thing thats completely replaced, saving them money). being a pre owner its not that i can talk though LOL my phone is flaking plastic away like it needs some Head and Shoulders.

Learned a lot about RK from this... Thanks Dieter.

"we have a way better offering than you do with BlackBerry."

I'm confused. What are they offering?

Extensive PR?

or

Legacy hardware that can't open most PDFs, can't voice record your meetings, and zero current productivity software??

Like everyone else that is disgruntled, you're taking things out of context. He's not talking about the existing platform, he's talking about with webOS 2.x, Enyo and the new hardware.

My favorite quote from this article: "We have over 6 thousand apps and we’re growing quickly."

Seems he and I have different definitions of "quickly".

We as in who? Hp + Homebrew? cuz that is the only way they have over 6000 and that number grows maaayyb a few per day and thats all. sooo many of them are useless sound boards and just straight up dumb crap. i would say there is only like 200 GOOD apps for webos (im counting the phone app cuz i like it :D )... honesly i dont care too much about apps on my pre cuz i have an itouch and that thing takes care of my random awesome app needs. i like the pre much more as a phone then the iphone though.

To be fair, the app catalog + beta catalog + web catalog has about 6500 apps in total. So he's not lying about having over 6K apps. The "we're growing quickly" is what caused me to laugh. 0 to 6K in 2 years is not "growing quickly" when you have platforms going from 0 to 8K in 4 months.

By the way, more than 30% of those 6500 apps are spam apps from 10 developers. So much for "quality over quantity".

Rumor has it there are ~27K developers on WP7. webOS currently has apps from about 1.5K developers. 1.5K after 2 year. This is the platform that is based on web standards that are so common place that thousands of developers would flock to it.

agreed... devs are waiting for good hardware to put their software on, which doesn't even have a specific date of release and isn't known to be coming for months. however, despite all this some devs are having trouble making money in the android and ios markets because they are getting flooded with apps, making their apps hard sells. once they see that there is serious support for webos they will most def consider jumping on the bandwagon as its a whole new viable market with people lookin to spend their money on some software to pimp out their phones... I'm excited for the pre3. it looks really slick, solid and elegant. it is going to b a glorious day when i'm finally holding it in my hands

Quoting a friend of mine: "Nokia + Microsoft; Hard to see how this isn't tying two rocks together and hoping they will float."

Richard's definitely got the right "listen to what the dev community is telling us" attitude. Also nice to see that he's given thought to what he'll do with what he hears; SWAT teams are a great way of dealing with these sorts of transitional challenges.

Here's how Microsoft is doing it:

Moonlighting Within Microsoft, in Pursuit of New Apps
By ANNE EISENBERG
IF you have a smartphone, you probably have apps on it to check the news, play games, help with shopping or further a hobby like travel or bird-watching. But chances are that you don’t yet have Bubblegum — a new app that lets you instantly dress up cellphone photos, tinting them in sepia or adding neon blue highlights, for instance, and then share the results on Facebook.

That’s because Bubblegum is an app for a nascent market: people whose smartphones have the new Windows Phone 7 software inside. The phones have been on the market for only a few months in the United States. (Four models, including the Samsung Focus, the HTC Surround and the LG Quantum, are each $100 at the Microsoft Store.)

But if many people are to choose them in a crowded field led by iPhones and Android-based devices, these new phones will need a large dose of an essential smartphone aphrodisiac: apps by the armload that add games, social connectivity and many other features.

Because the platform is new, developers have to learn its ways before writing many of those apps. So to add them quickly, Microsoft has taken an unusual step. It has relaxed a strict rule and will let employees moonlight in their spare time and keep the resulting intellectual property and most of the revenue, as long as that second job is writing apps for Windows Phone 7-based devices.

And they don’t have to do that work quietly. The company is having weekly pizza parties for workers who pitch in to write code for the platform and is planning ways to publicize their work, including posters and awards of recognition, said Brandon Watson, director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7. Free Windows 7-based phones were given to all employees in the 19 countries where the phones are available.

The downside is that if an app doesn’t catch on, there is no money in it for the employees who developed it in their leisure time. This makes it a less attractive incentive than, for example, some of those at Google, which has a policy of permitting engineers to spend 20 percent of their paid time on projects of their own choosing that benefit the company.

But the rule change at Microsoft change is a departure for a company that, like so many others, has traditionally wanted its engineers to give their all to their core jobs, said Michael A. Cusumano, a professor of management and engineering systems at the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a co-author of “Microsoft Secrets” and the author of the recent “Staying Power,” which has several chapters devoted to the company.

“Engineers work all hours; they don’t punch a 9-to-5 clock,” Professor Cusumano said. “Normally, you want your employees to pour their passions into their jobs. If they do something else on the side, you don’t cheer them on.”

Mr. Watson of Microsoft said the policy change emerged in part because of a push from his group. “We tend to have strict moonlighting rules,” he said of the company. “But we’ve changed those rules so developers can do this in their spare time, and have the financial benefit and outcome of the work.”

The company is offering what Mr. Watson said was a standard split on app sales: 70 percent to the developers, 30 percent to Microsoft.

The incentive seems to be helping. More than 3,000 employees have registered to submit apps, he said, and about 840 have been published so far.

One is Bubblegum. It was written by a recently married couple, Sriram Krishnan, a program manager working on the company’s cloud computing platform, and Aarthi Ramamurthy, a program manager on the Xbox team.

Mr. Krishnan said the app work was definitely done in their spare time. “We were on our honeymoon in Hawaii when we started working on it,” he said. “But we like to write code.” (They continued working on it during Christmas vacation last year.)

Mr. Krishnan said that with the app, he wanted to be among the first to capture the Windows phone user base. He hopes the app will give rise to a mini-social network at its site, bubblegum.me, where users will be able to share photos. “The value will come from how many people are on it,” he said.

He isn’t worried that his side projects might raise eyebrows at Microsoft, and he has already written a second app, a Web browser, for the Windows phone. “A check shows up, and I cash it. Microsoft is O.K. with that,” he said. “They have been hugely supportive.”

MICROSOFT’S new rules fit into the broader rethinking of how large companies manage research, said Josh Lerner, a professor of investment banking at Harvard Business School. “Microsoft is not just rewarding people for what they do in their spare time,” he said, but is also “harnessing that energy to the company’s ends” to catch up in the mobile market.

“It’s symptomatic of a larger transformation,” he said, as companies unlock more entrepreneurial activity, granting incentives and rewards to researchers in the hope they will stay put instead of moving to other companies.

Professor Cusumano agrees that the change in rules encourages entrepreneurial activity. “Firms like Microsoft that stick around for decades need to reinvent themselves periodically,” he said.

“Microsoft has been knocking their heads against a wall, building more and more bells and whistles for Windows that no one needs,” Professor Cusumano said. “Instead, they can use their staff this way. It’s a way to make every programmer a potential entrepreneur, and it also helps Microsoft gain momentum with its new mobile platform.”

The rule change offers an option for employees who don’t want to leave for the insecurity of a start-up but still want recognition for ideas, said Daniel H. Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”

“This is another way to say, ‘Work here, and you can have the best of both worlds,’ as an employee of an established company and also as an entrepreneur,” he said.

E-mail: novelties@nytimes.com.

Side note: I love that a company is arrogant enough to think they can tell me what to do in my spare time. I've never understood the moonlighting rules of these companies and have never allowed them to govern anything that I do outside of my work hours.

try working for an HMO!

You know, this 'legacy' cut is nothing new on the consumer market. Take the (now defunct) PS3 backward compatible hardware, for example. Sony cut ps2 game support in order to provide a more consistent gaming experience. Yes, it pissed a LOT of customers off who had stacks of legacy games. But who now can deny the beautiful HD landscapes of todays gaming offerings? More so, ps2 games are again being played on the platform that suits them best, staying true to original developer vision. IMO, though painful to the pocketbook, this IS what's best when customer experience is most strongly in mind.

That said, I've been sitting on the webOS so long that I have dimples in my posterior cheeks. This news, however, delivered as it is, reminds me that great empires rise upon the solid foundations of the past. What is built, and rebuilt on those foundations does not often serve original purpose. In fact, most often the landscape changes dramatically in order to suit ever evolving needs. WebOS 3.0, Enyo... These are the blueprints for the new palm/hp metropolis. Gone are the days of the community gardens.

Bravo, webOS... Thanks for the invitation to the next generation.

Want to shake things up...?

Make an Apple Iphone OS Emulator for Web OS.

That would make things very interesting, and quite possibly start a legal battle.

Palm's been there and done that. Remember iTunes Media Sync?

"Possibly" start a legal battle?

iOS is closed source. So how could HP legally ever create an emulator without licensing it from Apple?

Yes HP. Don't bother creating your own ecosystem, just try to plug into the competition's. Brilliant! /sarcasm

Not to mention that there isn't much on iOS that interests me.

really?! cuz it has everything webos has and more haha. i think soo much of the software produced for ios is awesome. there is a reason y the original pre had the same rez as the iphone at the time :) I'm no Apple fanboy, i just appreciate when something is good

iTunes borked my wife's desktop, to the point of format and re-install.

Once burned, twice shy. With WebOS, use whatever desktop interface you want... why take a step back?

That's pretty much impossible. You and your wife are probably just half retarded.

Nothing to do with developers, but I depleted 40% of my battery reading this article over 3G. I'm not that slow of a reader... hope the pre3 has better battery life (and will be available on Sprint) :-)

eeeek time for a new battery buddy... i got a 1350 mAh on ebay for 10 bucks. its for a Centro i think but it fits in the pre just fine with the touchstone back. def a noticeable upgrade

Dieter / Derek -- thanks for the review. I don't suppose he said anything to confirm that the gesture area is still planned for WebOS 3.x and beyond? Even though I don't agree with it, I can understand them deciding to not have a gesture area on the Touchpad .... but, there will be other Smartphones beyond the Pre 3 and nobody knows what the plan is there.

What's the roadmap? I certainly hope it includes gestures along many of WebOS's other amazing features.

The part I really find frustrating: I had this foolish notion that Feb 9 would answer questions (where are we going, what's the plan, etc...), however, instead, we have more questions than ever and NO CLUE when we will have answers.

Perhaps, the next time 'round (when you have another interview with the Palm folk) we could, as a community, submit questions to you guys to review & inject. --> not that you aren't already asking good stuff (you are), there's just *so* much more to be answered -- probably enough to feed an entire palmcast (you might go longer than the last marathon -- be warned)!

big news!!! Apps developed in enyo can be deployed on other platforms. No legal issues...now I can move to enyo dev

i'll be honest i don't understand 90% of the stuff they are talking about. this is all inside baseball. i'm clearly more the consumer side then the developer stuff.

as a side note: some loaded questions:

"you’re abandoning the current webOS developer base, “Screw you guys, we have something new and faster.”"

I mean honestly. How is the guy going to respond to that any differently then "No!" Like he's ever gonna say "yeah **** them." I just think questions like that aren't ever gonna get you any answer other then "no" cause no sane company would ever say yes. I'm not saying they are just suspect questions. the follow up is a bit better.

Our governor here in Wisconsin, Moammar Walker, is happy to say similar things to the opposition before ruthlessly crushing them.

Ok, back on subject now..

I strongly disagree with his opinion about the Microsoft-Nokia alliance. There are a whole lot of .NET developers around the world, the toolchain is quite mature, and the platform is pretty powerful and flexible. Enterprise support is definitely there. The problem with Microsoft-Nokia is simple: Windows Phone isn't a very good design in regards to long term maintainability, scalability, and usability. The user experience has never "wowed" me. It just doesn't grip the imagination and make you wonder how much further it could go, like webOS does. Moreso, it's still far to reliant on burning loads of clock cycles doing work client-side like Android and iOS do. If you want an OS that has the capability of sticking around long term on mobile, you need something pretty open that pushes the majority of the work server side.

An OS that is designed to run lightweight clients on the handheld, like webOS, while putting all the real workload on the server side is an OS that will fairly "organically" become faster and faster as wireless networks develop. When you do all that work client side, you're stuck resorting to tweaks and hacks to squeeze a little more juice out of your platform before you hack in a more service based architecture. If the platform hasn't been built to support it, it probably won't be pretty nor will that architecture be well enforced...meaning that most devs won't bother with the extra work making their apps more n-tier.

So really, the problem with Windows Phone isn't the developer tools or platform...it's the architecture of the OS itself and how it can keep up with demand for better user experiences over the long haul. As someone who's written plenty of enterprise Windows Mobile apps, my opinion is that it's just not a good design for the long term.

please chill out with the ads I just had to comment about the person that said "buy a device becuz you like it today and not for the update in the future". That's just funny because I don't think any of us pre minus users would even still be here if it wasn't for the updates and the homebrew community.. So yes we did buy and keep these phone because of promise of the future....lol

true in my case for sure