While the Palm Pre has dipped to $100 in the past, its appearance in Amazon is a good indication of a new price point for the popular webOS smartphone. So if you're on the fence or have a Sprint contract ready for renewal, now is a good time as any. If the price holds out, it will be the same as predicted for the upcoming Pixi handset, which is considered a step-down model, with a smaller screen and no Wifi. Guess we will have to wait until the holidays (according to Jon Rubinstein) for the Pixi; as for the Pre, it has come a long way from the $199 after $100 MIR when introduced in June.
Confirmation is in that Palm's e-commerce program will be going live this Thursday, according to a recently leaked company timeline. Uploading apps to the App Catalog will cost you $99 / year for the privilege (beta participants will get in for just $5 the first year), and developers will be paid for their sales via PayPal on a 70/30 split. Users can then purchase apps via credit card.
For an idea of how much people are willing to pay for webOS apps, Precentral has started a new poll to determine the most popular price point. With the proliferation of cheap iPhone apps, will $1 apps rise to the top? Maybe not, as Palm Developer Community Manager Chuq Von Rospach previously stressed quality over quantity for webOS apps.
"This news represents a milestone for the Palm team...adding paid applications provides developers the incentive to build lucrative apps", gadgetell writes. Other notables to look forward to include a GSM Palm Pre, rumored to arrive in Europe this Fall, and the webOS Pixi coming by the holidays, which will be compatible with a vast majority of current webOS apps out of the box.
The overhaul of the App Catalog also seems like an ideal time for Palm to release their webOS 1.2 update, which has been in the works for some time, and adds numerous enhancements.
UPDATE: Looks like Palm delayed the release, and it is now expected next week. It could be that webOS is making the jump right to 1.2.1 including e-commerce features, or gives them additional time to iron out iTunes 9 compatibility (now 9.01).
For those clamoring for an alternative to the slide-out thumbpad on the Pre, webOS internals recently updated their vitual keyboard app, notes Precentral. The latest version (0.23) includes a number of new fixes and tweaks, including changing themes on the fly, a snazzier default theme, and improved behavior of the shift key (for all CAPS), and orange key (switches to alternate characters).
The keyboard should be compatible with Sprint and the new Bell version of the Pre, and works in portrait and landscape mode. To install, you need to use the package installation app described here.
Last weekend, the very first episode of The Engadget Show was filmed in the heart of NYC, with Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein as the inaugural guest. In the segment we learn a bit about Rubinstein's story, including his role at Apple (as VP of the iPod division), and moving into his new calling at Palm. He starts off discussing the Pre (including stating that a GSM version would be out in Europe by the holidays, including UK, Spain, Ireland, and Germany). He then shows off and the new webOS Pixi, which was met with healthy applause. Availability will be "before the holidays", although price is still to be announced.
At about 25:30 he moves into describing his plan for attracting webOS developers, the SDK and the direction that the App Catalog is going. "Quality of apps are really important to us...we have more (SDK tools) coming" he states. "We've gotten tremendous interest from iPhone developers. Speed of development is much faster on webOS; we want to make sure the experience is great, and it's about getting the final App Catalog online in the fall".
Check out the video below (you can also catch Joshua Topolsky's spot on Jimmy Fallon, when he hams it up about the Pre). In addition to Topolsky's witty banter, we also get some cool, live electronic music from Bit Shifter that 8-bit gaming fans can appreciate.
In a recent interview by TechCrunch with the founders of CitySourced, a new webOS app that lets you file issues to your city, they found out more than just how to report potholes and graffiti from your phone. When pressed, CitySource admitted that Palm was paying them for their development efforts, but were reluctant to give a specific number due to their NDA with Palm.
Palm is really paying companies to write apps for the Pre? Yes. How much? All I got despite truly obnoxious questioning was “under $500,000.”
Do you think Palm should be commissioning companies at this point to fill up the App Catalog, which is growing steadily with developers not on the receiving end of these incentives? One would assume their Launch Partners (back when the Pre was released) got a push in the right direction; but at this stage, the majority of developers are preparing for e-commerce the usual way, via sales and advertising through the App Catalog.
UPDATE:Digital Daily reports that according to a source inside Palm, the idea (that Palm was giving incentives) was dismissed as "rubbish". Three in a "position to know" said they'd "never heard of such an incentive". CitySourced has refused to comment or clarify the story.
Last week, Precentral reported that webOS 1.2 was leaked to a few Pre users utilizing the webOS Doctor (to restore your device to factory standard), before Palm patched up the "issue" soon after. Since then, the full release notes from Sprint have been posted, as well as a user video that walks us through many of the new features. One cool new feature may be LED blink notifications, although it does not look to be enabled by default; but will now be possible by toggling "Blink Notifications" in 1.2 and with the function indicateNewContent().
The App Catalog will also be getting a facelift, with new buttons to share links via text and e-mail, an improved category listing, and a single screen to manage your apps (so you can delete or upload within the interface). Still no word on paid apps, but they are rumored to be just around the corner. As for when the update will arrive, why the hold up? One factor could be the recent broken iTunes syncing that Palm could address, as they have in past updates. Especially since a Palm representative stated that the Pixi would sync up with Apple's software.
Check out photos below (full changelog and video after the break). What other features would you like to see for the next big update?
Qualcomm has given Palm Infocenter the heads up on the processor that will be powering the upcoming webOS Palm Pixi handset, and for those hoping for gaming capability, the 600MHz MSM7627 chip it uses will have a 200MHz GPU supporting OpenGL 2.0 (which should be available when Palm's Graphics Engineers get the SDK up to speed). The full specs under the hood include:
Two ARM cores integrated into a single chip – a dedicated CPU core and a dedicated modem processor – for an unparalleled level of integration:
600MHz applications processor with floating point unit and L2 cache
400MHz modem processor
Supports both CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO Rev. A and UMTS HSDPA 7.2Mbps/HSUPA 5.76Mbps, and GSM
In addition to the two ARM cores, features 320MHz application DSP for multimedia supporting full 30 fps WVGA encode/decode, 200MHz hardware-accelerated 3D graphics core supporting OPEN GL 2.0, high-resolution camera, integrated GPS
12mm x 12mm footprint
Optimized power consumption
Overall, the Pixi will pack slightly less punch than the Pre (apparently supporting fewer open cards), but is no slouch. Of note is that the chip supports EVDO and HSDPA, foreshadowing a GSM Pixi that is to come.
Yesterday, Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein was the inaugural guest on the new Engadget Show, NYC, in front of media a packed studio audience. At the forefront of the conversation was the Pre and the new webOS Pixi handset, as well as the future of mobile technology. Engadget's Joshua Topolsky, who previously had first dibs on the Pre on the Jimmy Fallon show, finally got to ham it up with the big boss himself in a "great interview...informative, witty, and razor sharp". Rubinstein also surpised all members of the audience with a Touchstone charging dock. Guess everyone will have to get a Pre or Pixi now so they can use it!
Details of what was discussed are limited; so we'll have to wait for the video when Engadget posts it later this week; in the meantime you can check out some photos from the event.
Techies and webOS fans will have something to tune into next week, as Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein will be the inaugural guest sitting down on The Engadget Show this Sunday; described as "a mix of one-on-one interviews, roundtable discussions, short video segments, and live music". The show will be filmed live each month, and the video hosted (for free) on Engadget, iTunes, Zune Marketplace, and more.
The popular tech site is going full steam ahead with their new show, sponsored by Nokia, with a studio audience of up to 450 in Tishman Auditorium, New York City (near NYU). For those in the area, tickets are free and will be first come, first served. Media will also be accomodated, but must first obtain permission. Previously, Engadget's Joshua Topolsky showed off the Pre on the Jimmy Fallon show, and more recently the handset was featured in commercials and a reality ad series for Bell Canada.
So stay tuned as Rubinstein will be put on the spot with questions about the upcoming Palm Pixi, what's in store for webOS and the Pre, and of course all the latest Palm happenings.