Does webOS need an iTunes-like Ecosystem to Survive? | webOS Nation

Does webOS need an iTunes-like Ecosystem to Survive?

by Dieter Bohn Wed, 13 May 2009 4:00 pm EDT

Jcunwired in our forums points us to this excellent article at Toms Guide which provides an overview of the Pre and the market space it's entering into.  The verdict isn't exactly rosy:

The Pre lacks a killer app, a killer platform/ecosystem, and a defined audience. I don’t care how good the phone is. You need the whole package, particularly in the face of crushing competition and a terrible consumer-spending atmosphere. Pre has two fleeting advantages: its multitasking user interface and Synergy, both of which are easy enough for rivals to quickly copy. That’s the killer. Even if Palm scores some early praise, the company has lost too much ground to withstand the follow-up onslaught from bigger names that will seize its best ideas and add them to their far more successful products.

There are valid points here.  We'll leave aside the question of the target audience (whether the "Fat Middle" is big enough) to focus on another question: Can the Pre create an ecosystem?  By "Ecosystem" we're talking about a set of things including but not limited to: a large set of engaged and good developers making great apps, a big community of Pre users (we're actually covered there), webOS hackers (in the good sense of "hack"), and -- here's the key to Van Winkle's argument-- a desktop app to work with.

The question is how much does the iTunes ecosystem add to the iPhone's success?  Apple clearly has a best-of ecosystem for the iPhone in iTunes -- the media available on iTunes "just works" with iPhones, Macs, PCs, and iPods.  While you can get music onto the Pre fairly easily via USB Disk mode and via the Amazon MP3 store, it's not really the same thing.  Also missing: video.

Clearly Palm shouldn't try to one-up Apple at Apple's own game here, but is there a way they can create the same "iTunes Ecosystem feel" with the Pre?  Our take is that Palm is hoping that the Pre and webOS feel so plugged-in to the internet that it becomes a sort of Ecosystem for them. Whether the strategy can work is an open question.