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Palm Pre and webOS

Palm has just announced their very interesting looking webOS, and Mojo web application framework. Unlike Apple, Palm are essentially making the way you develop for their devices the way you develop for the web.

According to Palm, Mojo is:

a new application framework based on the HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript standards … webOS applications are installed and run directly on the device at native speed and have access to a wide range of device services.

Mojo will enable you to:

  • Build applications with gesture-based navigation, transitions, and scrolling
  • Use the webOS notification system to alert users without interrupting them
  • Leverage the local storage capabilities of HTML5 so that data is available even when users are offline
  • Use a JSON-based message bus to tap into a wide range of device services, including contacts, calendars, and location

It goes without saying that the iPhone clearly has an enormous headstart when it comes to mobile platforms, but it will be interesting to see whether by opening itself up to orders of magnitudes more developers, essentially all web developers, Palm will be able to crate a dynamic ecosystem for the webOS. But, as our State of the Web survey suggests, we are still very much in the early days of the adoption of the mobile web, even among early technology adopters.

I’ve said before that this is what I would much have preferred Apple to do with the iPhone. I’m very keen to see the Pre and webOS in the flesh, and think that’s at least on paper it’s a definitely exciting proposition.

One day, I have little doubt that just about anything with a screen will have an SDK to make it extensible, and I’ll also go out on a limb to say that the way that will be done is the way Palm is going about it – via web technologies.

There are quite a few commentators suggesting that this is Palm’s last roll of the dice, in the face of the iPhone, and Android, along with Windows based smartphones. If it is their last roll, I think they made the best possible bet they could.

This is definitely something we’ll be keeping track of.

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