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Cellphones Handhelds Software

The Kafka-esque Nightmare of Palm App Submission 332

Posted by kdawson
from the next-the-hoop-of-fire dept.
MBCook writes "Jamie Zawinski, shortly after the release of the Palm Pre, wrote two free software programs for the phone: a Tip Calculator and a port of Dali Clock. In trying to get the apps published to the App Catalog, he has had to sign up to be a developer twice; fax contracts around; been told (apparently incorrectly) that he was not allowed to release free software for the phone; and told he had to give PayPal his checking account number. 'It's been two weeks, and I have received no reply. In the months since this process began, other third-party developers seem to have managed to get their applications into the App Catalog. Apparently these people are better at jumping through ridiculous hoops than I am.'"
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The Kafka-esque Nightmare of Palm App Submission

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  • Windows Mobile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:13AM (#29578717) Journal

    This is what's actually good in Windows Mobile. Anyone can write software for it and anyone can start a Store site for it. In this respect Windows and Windows Mobile are quite open architectures. All iPhone, Palm and Symbian are really restricted and closed architectures (Symbian requires you to get certificate for the app too), and getting your apps on the stores are a real bitch.

  • by jekk (15278) <mcherm@mcherm.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:28AM (#29578811) Homepage

    So Palm decided that they wanted to imitate Apple? After all, "no press is bad press", and Apple sure has been getting a lot of press for the way it runs the AppStore. Locking down the device... it may not be useful to the *customers*, but it couldn't harm the company at all, could it?

    Well, not unless they abandon your platform (or never flock to it in the first place) in favor of Android or even Nokia's Maemo -- platforms that allow the USER to control what they run on their devices.

    I think I've learned my lesson. I am not buying an iPhone, Kindle, or (after reading this) Palm -- no devices from a company that intends to control what I can run on my device. Offering a store: GREAT idea. Carefully controlling what goes in this store and prohibiting any other means of getting apps onto the device: that makes it THEIR device, not mine, and I don't want to play that game.

  • by tgv (254536) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:41AM (#29578909) Journal

    The name Kafka now gets invoked whenever someone doesn't immediately get what he/she wants. Some administrative thingy gone wrong? Kafka! Your broadband connection doesn't allow you to download at 20Mb and the help desk says that the speed is not constant? Kafka! Your microwave's remote control's batteries are not in stock at your local supermarket and it will take more than an hour to restock? Kafka! You wake up and you find yourself turning into a giant beetle? O wait...

  • by Old97 (1341297) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:44AM (#29578927)

    You are confusing users with developers. Very few users are developers. Those who aren't developers aren't interested in what hoops you need to jump through or in how much "freedom" you have as a developer. They want a reliable, easy to use device and they want a lot of easy to use applications that are useful to them, easy to install and easy to use. Apple has accomplished that. Their numbers of users and available applications prove that. I doubt if any of these companies care about what you personally will buy or not buy. You are not the market they are going after.

    As for developers, if you give them a few tools and access to millions of potential customers, they will jump through any hoops they have to in order to compete in a lucrative market.

  • by kuzb (724081) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:47AM (#29578941)

    Seriously. It's a tip calculator, and a clock. These are the kinds of applications we can do with less of anyway. FOSS software is rife with these small and pointless programs. I agree such software is great as learning tools for others to get a foothold with when writing their own more complicated software, but they're hardly worth getting your panties in a twist over. Palm OS comes with a clock, and last I checked, is bundled with a calculator.

    I could understand if it were something truly useful that added to the platform, but these programs do not.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:50AM (#29578955)

    Locking down the device... it may not be useful to the *customers*

    Apple has recently served up it's two billionth app (this number does not include updates).

    More open devices like the old Palms and Windows Mobile may seem more consumer-friendly at first, but when you take a closer look, you'll see that Apple's approach is *far* more consumer-friendly. Far more apps have been sold through iTunes than ever would have been sold if developers had to peddle their wares independently. And even free apps are easier to find, download and install.

    Do you even know how easy it is to get an app for the iPhone? Once you find an app that interests you, it just takes one click to acquire it and have it installed on your iPhone. One click! No downloading zip files, extracting them then installing via some menu system. Just click, and plug in your phone. Done.

    Apple keeps your credit card information for iTunes when you set up your account. You don't have to enter anything in for each purchase, and Apple is more trustworthy than some random web site.

    As far as the customers are concerned, the iTunes App Store is a smashing success.

  • by Shrike82 (1471633) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:50AM (#29578959)

    Maybe the world doesn't need another tip calculator...

    Why do we need any? Is it really that hard to work out a fairly simple percentage in your head? Perhaps it's easier to leave a small tip when a machine is telling you to do it. "It's not me that's cheap, it's my iPhone."

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:52AM (#29578977)

    Palm, Apple and MS want you to sign up once pay the fees and have the ability to upload free or paid apps. no one wants to wasted time on a second process for paid apps. the reason for paypal and other access is if you write paid apps and people ask for refunds then Palm needs the ability to get money from you.

    While this genius is complaining about these "hoops" others are writing apps and will be getting paid soon.

  • by bwalling (195998) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:59AM (#29579037) Homepage
    To quote Wikipedia: "Kafka's work, in this sense, is not a written reflection of any of his own struggles, but a reflection of how people invent struggles." So, this guy whining about his app submission being to trying, is actually Kafkaesque - he's inventing a struggle so he can whine about it on the Internet to satisfy his narcissism.
  • by Zhiroc (909773) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @07:59AM (#29579045)
    What about Android? TBH I haven't looked into it all that much, despite the hype. A while back (before the iPhone and Android), when I made the decision to move off of Palm OS, I chose Win Mobile for the sheer fact that it looked like the most open platform, which is pretty amazing... And to reply directly to your comment, the problem is that we haven't yet really gotten too far down the line towards open hardware. The level of miniaturization and integration you need to make a small appliance like a PDA is too expensive. As a case in point, I don't see much in the way of "hobbyist" laptops either, and that would be the first platform such attempts would have broken into by now.
  • by jekk (15278) <mcherm@mcherm.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:00AM (#29579049) Homepage

    The point is not what YOU think of the quality of the apps. It's not what PALM thinks of the quality of the apps. The point is that the author of the software must jump through ridiculous hoops and beg permission of someone before they can give their app to people who want it. And if the someone says "No", then no one can have it.

  • by fifewiskey (1608023) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:05AM (#29579131)

    I believe it would be nice to set up some standards but I enjoy the extreme openness that we have today. Anyone can write an app for the phone, and who cares if it gets published or not. It's truly back to the old days of write whatever you need to make things better and share it. Once you begin to lay done the standards and organize the structure you begin to loose that "wild west" feeling.

    There is a golden mean between chaos and order, however I lean a little more towards chaos in this situation.

  • Re:Jamie (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:11AM (#29579197) Homepage

    Once I realized it was JWZ, I had that same thought. It is perhaps possible that NOTHING would please this guy.

  • Re:Windows Mobile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:18AM (#29579307) Homepage Journal

    Yeah. It's gotten pretty ridiculous that you need approval to put things in a specific store so people can use them. This is something that Microsoft actually got right.

    Yet on Xbox 360, developers still need to pay $99 per year for Creators Club and then get approval to get their XNA games posted.

  • by Kidbro (80868) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:21AM (#29579347)

    Apple keeps your credit card information for iTunes when you set up your account. You don't have to enter anything in for each purchase

    As far as praise goes, this one is pretty hilarious.

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:22AM (#29579355)

    Does this sound like an efficient organization?

    It sounds very much like an organization that has never had to deal with this type of application submission situation, and is still working out the kinks in what what would naturally be a complicated process whole at the same time dealing with a significantly larger response than expected.

    Is Palm and their App Store submission process perfect? Hell no! But to call it Kafka-esque is crude hyperbole of the most insulting form.

    Oh, and this IS /. Lots of Apple fanboys submit stories all the time here. Or have you not noticed the overwhelmingly positive iPhone stories, even back when they were initially launched and had many similar issues? Or are you blinded by your own fanboyism?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:37AM (#29579541)

    are you old enough to know who he is?
    not that it matters who he is, but a troll??
    JWZ is no troll... Full of himself, most definitely, a troll not so sure.

  • by eudaemon (320983) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:02AM (#29579859)

    You were correct until scripting for Android http://code.google.com/p/android-scripting/ [google.com] was released;
    now "Python, Perl, JRuby, Lua, BeanShell, and shell are currently supported, and we're planning to add more."

    So without trying to offend anyone - if a developer can't manage to bang out an app in one of the many languages
    now supported, do you really want to run their app?

  • Re:Windows Mobile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rboatright (629657) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:07AM (#29579925)

    Excuse me for not jumping on the giant bandwagon here, but let's try something different.

    Back in the "good old days" of palm before the pre, there WAS NO over the air app store installed on the treo. You had to google for someplace to find apps for your treo, you had to go there, you had to down load them, and you had to install them using the hot sync program.

    That was easy for Aunt Minnie (NOT!)

    Palm has NOT FORBIDDEN that process, Dali Clock and Tip calculator are available at this web site, and at PreCentral EXACTLY as they were back int he Treo days, and can be installed by any user EXACTLY as they were back in the treo days.

    Palm has ADDED the over-the-air app store so that AUNT MINNIE can find apps. And people are bitching that there is a small set of hoops that Palm and the cell carriers want you to jump through that if you distribute apps (which could be evil) over THEIR NETWORK not over the in-tar-tubes.

    They want to be able to verify who you are but having a tax ID, and they want to validate that you're serious by charging you $5.00 Wow, that's SO irrational.

    I'm sorry. I disagree.

    Rick Boatright

  • Re:!nightmare (Score:3, Insightful)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:07AM (#29579933)
    So let me get this straight, Palm needs people to sign an NDA in order to release an app to an app store? And people accuse the Apple store of being non-transparent. Wow.

    Maybe I'm being ignorant here, could you please explain why would you need to sign an NDA to release an app to an app store? It's not like he's selling company secrets. It's a tip calculator and a dali clock, if palm actually needs the person who developed that stuff to be under an NDA, they're in pretty bad trouble since things like tip calculators and clocks are similar to exercises you might do as a beginning programmer (well maybe not a clock, but a tip calculator certainly).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:14AM (#29580013)
    Meanwhile, the rest of the world gets on with their lives...
  • by mcvos (645701) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:19AM (#29580069)

    Oh, and this IS /. Lots of Apple fanboys submit stories all the time here. Or have you not noticed the overwhelmingly positive iPhone stories, even back when they were initially launched and had many similar issues? Or are you blinded by your own fanboyism?

    Apple fanboyism on Slashdot? Are we talking about the same Apple that gets repeatedly attacked on Slashdot for their ridiculous app store approval policies?

    Or do you think that Palm should be allowed to be more draconian than Apple because they're smaller?

    You're the one getting defensive when his favourite company gets attacked, so who do you think is the real fanboy here?

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:35AM (#29580305)

    but in reality they often make the most well-designed and engineered products on the market

    Youll[sic] want to cite that.

    What's the measure of well-designed and engineered? The most sales? The best customer satisfaction? What study criteria would you accept as a citation for such an assertion? Is it even possible to objectively measure without more parameters? He did provide more parameters you know, talking about making things suitable for average users. For that you can actually look at formal usability studies of users performing common tasks.

    Sansa Fuzes are, as i understand it, generally considered superior to iPods...

    Generally considered by whom? By geeks on slashdot or reporters for Wired magazine or by the average consumer?

    The point the pervious poster was getting at and which you miss by removing the context when quoting him is not that Apple makes the best of everything, but that they make products that are better suited to average users than other companies do. This isn't a new idea, and has been postulated to be the core of their business model by many different pundits.

    You make mention of the Blackberry which is a good example. RIM carved out a profitable niche for themselves. They targeted corporate users and built devices well suited to those users. It's a good market and a big market and you can get bulk sales by giving them certain, special features. It was low hanging fruit. Apple's entry into smartphones, like their entrance into the mp3 player market, targeted average consumers instead. When the iPhone came out, it was much, much better suited to average users than Blackberries were. One could argue that Blackberry has moved on and started aggressively targeting the "average user" market as well offering lower end devices tailored to them, but they have not had the same level of success in that market. Apple has, likewise, tried to move into the corporate market with only modest success. The difference between these companies and approaches is not that Apple makes the most well designed and well-engineered smartphone (as you seem to have interpreted the previous poster) but that Apple makes a smartphone that is "the most well-designed and engineered... because it works really well for the average person".

    It's important to note that criteria because if you're a corporate user or a high-tech geek, it's not designed with you as the primary target market and some of the design decisions which make the device nicer for normal people will annoy you. Slashdot users are not the target market for iPhones and whining about that as half the posts whenever the topic comes up aren't going to make Apple drop their strategy of opening up the market to normal users in favor of targeting a tiny subset of the population. Referring to things like the Apple store as a flaw simply shows lack of perspective. It's like complaining the baseball cap you bought is flawed because it doesn't protect you in a motorcycle crash.

  • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:54AM (#29580597)
    You miss the point, not that I made it very well. Jamie's contributions to the nerd community shifted long ago from coder to source of entertainment - he's a rockstar from the early days. You haven't the proper context until you understand that. It's on Slashdot because it's Jamie - the more topical Palm Pre connection was just an excuse. And the whole acting like an a-hole thing? That's part of the game. Rockstars trash hotel rooms, jwz trashes ... whatever pisses him off. Usually with more wit and insight than the average nerd can muster. Hell, his 'fortune' quotes alone are worth the price of admission. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. :-)

    Today's quote:

    Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions." Now they have two problems.
    -- Jamie Zawinski
  • Re:Windows Mobile (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:24AM (#29581797)

    That is a very good explanation for the process taking a bit too long... It does not explain jwzs experience at all.

    It seems they hadn't thought about open source apps at all (how out of touch with homebrew do you have to be to do that?). Requiring an NDA to discuss distribution of open source apps definitely takes things to kafkaland. Requiring a Paypal account shows they still didn't get it.

    The whole process just sounds like old Palm all over: really good ideas that they somehow manage to ruin in the execution...

  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:30AM (#29581877) Homepage Journal

    The point is not what YOU think of the quality of the apps. It's not what PALM thinks of the quality of the apps. The point is that the author of the software must jump through ridiculous hoops and beg permission of someone before they can give their app to people who want it. And if the someone says "No", then no one can have it.

    ...Except for not. The apps can still be distributed outside of Palm's store.

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