For the last 8 or so years, I’ve been writing apps for the Microsoft Pocket PC (and subsequently the Microsoft Windows Mobile OS) devices. In the early days, I was making some substantial income selling these apps on the Internet, however, my software sales have gone down every passing year to where I’m making just enough to cover my minimal operating expenses. I don’t think you can even buy a new Pocket PC PDA these days, as most people favor using their smartphones with the same integrated features. So in my opinion, the Windows Mobile OS is a dying platform for application developers.
The popularity of the Apple iPhone has created an entirely new arena for application developers. The iPhone’s best feature is its applications, and owners are definitely buying these apps in large volumes. As such, I looked into the possibility of switching my development efforts from the WM OS to the iPhone. To do so, I would have to purchase an Apple Mac computer as well as an iPhone with AT&T service for testing. I would also need to learn Apple’s Objective-C programming language and the entire process for writing an iPhone app. This would require lots and lots of time and money on my part, something I didn’t want to invest at this time.
When the Google Android phone appeared on the market (through T-Mobile), I investigated programming for that platform since it was based on Java programming. Google provided a Windows-based emulator that seemed to work quite well, so I wouldn’t need to buy a new T-Mobile phone immediately for development and testing. As I began my research and investigating, I realized that programming for the Google phone was just too difficult. Google’s documentation was too sparse, and it required developers to dig around and experiment to figure out how to use advanced feature calls. I tried for a month to learn and develop some Google Android apps, but ultimately gave up because the learning curve was way too steep. In hindsight, I think the decision to not develop for the Android phone was a good one, since I don’t see these phones selling like the Apple iPhones.
I’ve been working with the WebOS for the last few months and I really love it (having a good Windows-based emulator is really helpful). I can very quickly create useful and nice looking apps, and I don’t have to drop down to the low-level C progamming language to do so. I just finished writing a electronic wallet app for the WebOS and I’m now writing a companion application for my Desktop Vista PC, and I’m just dreading it. After writing for the WebOS, having to go back to Microsoft Windows C-programming just seems archaic! Lots of mind numbing coding, abstract system function calls, etc. I feel like I’m back to the dark ages again. I know I can use some higher level programming languages for Windows (like .NET) but I don’t want to invest a lot of time learning those languages.
So, I’m planning to stop all Windows Mobile OS application development in favor of the Palm WebOS platform. It’s fresh new ground, and I’m hoping to duplicate the initial success I had with the Pocket PC platform with the WebOS. I’m also looking at getting a Palm Pre Pixi phone with Sprint Service when it comes out next month, so I’ve definitely decided to invest my time and money on this platform. Good luck to Palm and their reentry into the smartphone market!