Palm may have impressed smartphone fans with its new Pre, but the company still needs to convince application developers to get on board if it wants to replicate Apple's success in the market. However, with Palm's App Catalog and accompanying developer kit still in a limited beta phase, users have only around 30 apps to choose from two weeks after the device's launch.
To put that into perspective, Apple's App Store, which launched in July 2008, has become a hugely popular feature among its users who have downloaded the store's more than 50,000 apps over 1 billion times. Palm is obviously hoping to change this soon, but while they are eager to open up the WebOS SDK to a wider audience, they claim its software and developer services simply aren't ready to support this yet. Palm is not sharing any specific dates, but the company says their goal is to release the SDK by the end of summer.
In the short term, Palm said it will expand its early access program, providing access to thousands more developers over the next few weeks. The demand is clearly there, seeing as how some developers have already begun showing off homebrew applications using conventional Linux tools. Interestingly, instead of slapping these unofficial efforts down, Palm is showing an open attitude towards this, saying only that projects based on the official SDK will provide a better experience than hacks for both developers and users.