HP Opens WebOS App Catalog To TouchPad Developers


As Hewlett Packard gears up to release its TouchPad tablet, it's inviting developers to submit their TouchPad applications to the WebOS App Catalog and giving them more ways to make money from their creations.

HP has seen a "tremendous response" from developers since it began offering them the WebOS 3.0 SDK in late March, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said in a Thursday blog post. The WebOS 3.0 SDK, the first to support TouchPad applications, will also support in-app purchases, which give developers a way to generate additional revenue by allowing them to charge more for premium content and special features.

HP says its next WebOS SDK update will include documentation on adding in-app purchase code to applications, and "a couple of weeks" later developers will be allowed to formally submit in-app items to HP for review.

In-app purchases have helped many iOS and Android developers to generate additional revenue, but HP still faces a tough road ahead as it tries to claw its way into mobile relevancy. HPs WebOS App Catalog currently includes around 7,000 apps, a fraction of what the App Store and Android Market offer.

Another potential obstacle is HP's ambiguously phrased "summer" timeframe for the TouchPad's launch -- this could mean next week or it could mean late August. In any event, this kind of uncertainty will likely prevent a stampede of developers to WebOS, especially when they can aim for the much larger and inviting targets of iOS and Android.

However, HP insists that the mobile apps most customers need will be available when the TouchPad launches. "TouchPad has all the apps that most customers use most of the time," Grant Duke, WebOS specialist at HP said at an industry event last month.

In the meantime, HP is exploring other avenues for building its WebOS footprint. At the D9 conference Wednesday, HP CEO Leo Apotheker said he's considering the idea of licensing WebOS to third parties, including HTC.

"I happen to believe that WebOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system. It’s not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices," Apotheker said at the event.

Combined with HP's plan to load WebOS on its Windows PCs, this could give developers a target of between 100 to 110 million devices a year, according to Apotheker.