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Burning ships – Palm abandons PalmOS, stakes all on webOS

In 1519, Hernan Cortés (quite possibly one of the most murderous people in human history), arrived in the New World seeking fame, and more importantly fortune. Legend has it that after landing, but before setting off for the interior, he burnt all his ships – as proof to his men, and the indigenous south americans watching, that the conquistadores were “all in”. The truth is not quite so clear cut, but this has come to stand as a metaphor for a very effective approach to going into battle (or any other venture) – burning your bridges, and making success (or epic failure) the only options.

I wrote about Palm’s recently announced Pre, and webOS strategy, which particularly excited us here (and many at Web Directions North, including the Ajaxian duo of Ben Galbriath and Dion Almaer), in particular, the strategy of using HTML, CSS and JavaScript as the way of developing “native” Pre and webOS apps. Palm has clearly gone all in with this strategy, having announced that the PalmOS is no more. Their ships are now burnt. I’m sure there’ll be a great deal of disquiet from the many thousands of Palm developers, who over the last decade or more have built thousands of PamOS apps. Palm would seem to have decided that the best chance for success is to harness the millions of web developers out there to build applications for the Pre (and other hinted at webOS devices).

No word as yet as to when we might see a release of the Pre, or pre release SDKs for webOS, but we’re keeing our eye’s peeled.

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