His story shows, by counterexample, exactly why the Open Web is important. Part of the working definition I came up with in my previous post was that on the open web, no company can get between a developer who wants to publish something and a user who wants to use it. JWZ’s story shows what happens in a non-open environment when a company, Palm in this case, does get in the way. JWZ’s applications were innocuous free software which posed no conceivable threat to Palm in any way, and he didn’t even want to charge anything for them; nevertheless, Palm’s bureaucracy prevented JWZ from giving away his own software to people who wanted it.
When this happens, developers and users both lose.
Palm is not unique in this regard. The process for getting apps approved on the iPhone is no less opaque:
We’ve been getting more and more questions from customers wondering where the heck our iPhone App is. Unfortunately, we have no idea.
Despite sending a steady stream of emails to Apple requesting status updates, we continue to receive generic form letters in response – frustrating, to say the least.
Say what you like about Microsoft, but they never barred independent software developers from developing and distributing Windows software, did they?