Tuesday, September 1, 2009

As Palm Pre's App Catalog Grows, Homebrew Scene Exposes a Potential Achilles Heel

PhotobucketIn the less than three months since its release the Palm Pre's App Catalog has grown from a little over a dozen apps to forty five. So while it's not growing as fast as its fans would like Palm seems to be moving in the right direction in terms of courting developers. Rome—and all major software platforms—were not built in a day. And for those of us who are impatient and technically inclined, there is always the Homebrew scene.

But it is the very popularity of the Palm Pre's Homebrew apps which expose a worrying concern. It seems that the Palm Pre limits the amount of space which it dedicates to storing applications. As a result, there is a limit to the number of applications which can be installed on the Pre. I have installed a lot of apps from the App Catalog and a lot of Homebrew apps on my Pre. All told, including the Pre's built-in apps, I have fifty-two apps on my Pre. And as a result, I often bump up against this storage limit and have to delete existing apps in order to install new ones.

When you consider the size of huge number of apps in the iPhone's App Store or even the Android Market, the problem with this approach is clear. There is no reason why I should be getting anything resembling an "out of memory" error on my phone when it still have three gigs of free storage space left. The original PalmOS in its heyday, had over 30,000 apps available for it and most of those apps are available for the Palm Pre thanks to the Classic emulator. So for Palm to have a limit on the number of apps that can be installed on its webOS devices like the Pre feels like a mistake which should be corrected sooner, rather than later.

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