Judging by buzz alone, the Palm Pre seems to be current the hot smartphone among developers. It's no surprise, considering how much effort went into its developer platform. Palm is banking that a strong developer community will build a grassroots movement behind the Pre that can drag the company back from the brink of obscurity.
But Palm wasn't always the mobile developers' darling. Back when the Pre was but a glimmer in Palm's eye, Google Android was the smartphone OS du jour. Like Palm, Google has taken the value of a strong developer community to heart, releasing the Android code as open source and offering developer previews of its latest technologies. It even went as far as to give out free handsets to developers at this year's Google I/O conference.
[ iPhone developers are frustrated too by the Apple App Store's "ayatollahs" and slow bug-fix updates, as InfoWorld's Bill Snyder explains. | Considering Palm Pre development? Read the InfoWorld Test Center's Mojo SDK review first. ]
But all is not well in Android-land. A year after the platform's launch, second-generation Android handsets are now available to U.S. consumers, but they're hardly leaping off the store shelves. According to the research firm Canalys, Google Android commands only about a 3 percent share of the smartphone OS market, while Apple's iPhone has shown an astounding 627 percent growth in the past year.
No surprise that Android developers are starting to grumble. Google is learning the hard way that building a developer community isn't enough; you'd better also have the goods to back it up.