The webOS Wish List: A truly global App Catalog
This weekend's post from webOS developer Dan Perlberger on dealing with app piracy has generated one of the best conversations on the issue I think I've ever seen. A lot of opposing voices have been brought into the discussion, with good points made on both sides of the issue (as always, we remain opposed to piracy here at webOS Nation). One point in particular worth noting is the availability, rather the lack of availability, for apps internationally. There are three levels of app availability: (1) the United States, where 99% of apps are available; (2) the approved international market - Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Singapore, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK - which has a healthy majority of the US apps, plus a smattering of country-specific apps that for whatever reason haven't been made available elsewhere, but lacks a good chunk of apps that are for whatever reason only available in the US, and (3) everybody else.
Group numero uno makes out like gangbusters when it comes to app selection on webOS [insert USA chant here]. The approved countries in the second group do alright too - it's up to app developers to submit their apps for these countries. Group three - everybody in other countries that have gone out of their way to purchase webOS devices - they get the real short end of the stick.
As developers in the piracy conversation pointed out, they will gladly deal directly with outside-of-the-system international users to get the app they so desire, but that shouldn't have to be the case. A user shouldn't have to track down who the developer is, hope they'll be willing to send over an IPK, and hook up with them over PayPal.
So here's today's webOS wish list item: a truly global App Catalog. We certainly understand the pain that could come from trying to set up credit card agreements overseas, so here's a solution: allow users to pay with PayPal. Or set up a system where they can purchase credit in the store instead, certainly that'd be easier to put together (plus it would lay the infrastructure for App Catalog gift certificates).
On the developer front, simplify things there too. Instead of having a developer submitting click off each country in which they want their app to be available, give them the option to click 'global' and automatically enable app sales in any new countries added after their last update.
webOS fans are a strangely dedicated bunch. For all this platform and community has been through over the past few years, HP should definitely take the time to put together a system for international app purchases. These people deserve it for the lengths they've gone through to acquire devices, and they shouldn't feel they have to resort to piracy to get apps on them. In fact, HP, this really isn't a wish list item. Wish list means "I'd like for this to happen." No, this needs to happen.