Palm To Fight Race to the $.99 Bottom in the App Catalog | webOS Nation
 
 

Palm To Fight Race to the $.99 Bottom in the App Catalog

by Derek Kessler Mon, 10 Aug 2009 10:11 am EDT

Palm App Catalog Speaking at a PreDevCamp session, Palm’s Developer Community Manager Chuq van Rospach eased one fear expressed at many-a-preDevCamp regarding the iPhone App Store’s glut of 99¢ apps. Van Rospach was quoted at TamsPalm as saying:

“We’re also trying to build some things into the catalog … and different ways to get your app into the catalog and get it noticed. … how can we help people with good apps get that kind of notice and marketing … [we want to make sure that] the really good apps get that notice, not the cheap apps, and fighting that whole race to the bottom is one of those things that we want to see if we can do a little differently.”

More thoughts on this excellent news after the break!

So what does this mean to us? Like I noted last week when discussing Apple’s App Store stumbles, once Palm’s App Catalog gains monetary capabilities there’s going to be a rush of 99¢ apps, though Palm should take measures to ensure that the Catalog is not bogged down with gobs of cheap apps. So long as Palm makes an effort to highlight quality applications, developers should be able to get by charging more (rightfully) for their apps. Palm OS users are already used to a world where a good app costs $5-$10, and most wouldn’t flinch at the thought of paying such for a webOS app.

As Tam Hanna noted, it’s possible that Palm’s hand has been forced in the matter. Without the widespread adoption of the Pre like the iPhone at the launch of the App Store, Palm has to be willing to let developers charge more for applications (with fewer customers, higher prices will be needed for better margins). And given Palm’s blunders over the past few years (Cobalt OS and the Foleo, to name a few), some developers may be less than willing to risk an application for webOS without a guaranteed return on their investment.

Our take: while the idea of every app costing 99 cents may seem nice from a user perspective, the truth is that it's just not tenable.  Let's face it, there aren't and likely never will be as many Palm Pre phones out there as there are iPhones, so the size of the market is going to be smaller.  Even if that weren't the case, even with the iPhone's massive scale, iPhone developers are feeling the hurt from the race to the bottom.

We don't know exactly how Palm is going to ensure that quality apps that happen to cost a bit more are going to get proper attention, but we're happy to hear that Palm is not only aware of the problem but thinking about solutions.  Yes, more expensive apps may mean more money for Palm, but it also means more money for the developer, and that's the key.

So in a few months when you're showing off an app on your Pre to an iPhone user and they say "Mine does that too, but instead of $2.99 I only paid $.99," we hope you reply, "Well my app is going to see more frequent updates because, well, the developer is eating."