Whoa. It seems to me only a few weeks have passed since I previously posted on my blog back during those first few crazy days at Palm when I jumped onto the moving train; somehow, it also feels like ten years ago. Being a part of the Palm story has been a whirlwind adventure. And now, that adventure takes a new form.
Starting Monday, Dion and I are leaving HP / Palm as full-time employees but staying involved with HP webOS in a consulting capacity. Our post on the Palm Developer Blog goes into more detail on this transition and look to Dion’s blog for his own perspective.
As for me, “bittersweet” perfectly describes my feelings at this juncture. Working alongside the talented team at Palm has been a tremendous opportunity, and the chapter being written now with HP is ripe with extraordinary potential. Leaving the company of this crew is certainly a bitter cup to swallow.
What a fascinating time of change for our industry! The Web has been challenged as the dominant platform for mainstream consumer software experiences–though the contest with apps is far from over. The predicted mobile convergence (with the desktop) is happening now. Independent software developers are now re-empowered to earn a living at their craft in a new and interesting way–they join musicians, directors, writers, and other artists whose products command the attention of large swaths of the general public. The opportunity has always been there, but now the complexity of so much infrastructure required to distribute those experiences has been swept away (though the trade-off has not been without cost).
While at present we see a diverse set of incompatible software platforms competing for the right to distribute the produce of these new and revitalized app artisans and businesses, history tells us that consolidation of these platforms cannot be far in the distance. Reducing the number of app platforms in the marketplace–the “content formats” of the app world–is unquestionably a good thing for developers in the short-term. However, I hope that we can evolve to a place where the content format and device manufacturer are not irrevocably coupled. When you think about it, the status quo is comparable to a sort of bizarro world where, say, Sony MiniDiscs achieved unparalleled ubiquity but Sony never licensed the format to other device manufacturers.
Of course, this “bizarro world” I described is how the world played out in the last set of consumer software platform wars, but perhaps this time around a large set of developers will choose portable content formats and ensure that competition and innovation thrive for the next exciting decades to come. And hopefully, Dion and I can play a role in shaping that outcome.
(* The analogies above aren’t perfect, of course; cut me some slack. I’d love to write another post that goes into detail on the similarities and differences between traditional content media and interactive content, etc.)