Palm Pre Losing Mojo Each Day the SDK is Held Close

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Just yesterday, I was on camera saying how much I’m looking forward to the Palm (s PALM) Pre. With my first-gen iPhone contract up in July, I’m sure to get a new phone this summer. There’s still some open questions around the Pre, such as battery life and the cost to use the phone as a tethered modem for a notebook or netbook. The biggest question I have right now is the same one I had for Google’s (s GOOG) Android device: How long before developers embrace it and deliver a vast array of software?

This morning, I read a Wired article about Palm’s recent efforts to energize developers. Teleconferences and “preDevCamps” are happening to support the effort, which is great. Then I saw something that I probably should have known already, but I obviously had missed it:

“Palm has not said when it will makes its Pre SDK widely available to developers, but a select few already have had access to it.”

TeleNav is one of those select few, so I’d expect their navigation software to be available at, or soon after, Pre’s launch. And Palm introduced software partners like Facebook and Fandango at their CES unveiling. But there’s already a good mobile web interface for what those partners already offer, so while I’m sure these apps will appeal to many, they’re not really showing off “newness.”

My worry here is that Palm will face the same challenge that Google has faced with Android: a six-month wait (or more) after launch for a solid library of compelling applications. If it’s going to be so easy to develop WebOS apps with JavaScript, HTML and CSS, what’s the holdup on the Mojo SDK? Short of WebOS simply not being ready for developers to poke and prod, I can’t think of another reason. The longer developers wait for the SDK release, the wider the potential time gap between a hardware launch and a large library of software.

I haven’t changed my leaning towards the Pre, however I’ll be watching to see how long it takes before developers can start creating software for it. I don’t spend hundreds of dollars on mobile phone software, but it would be nice to have the option and not wait six months for a library of choice. The good news in all of this? From what I’ve read so far, developers do seem jazzed by the Palm presentations. I’d be more concerned if they weren’t.