How to improve the Palm App Catalog

The App Catalog has been around for a little less than a year and as of today there are over 3,000 applications. That’s a generous number when you consider the “apps” released by Brighthouse Labs, Appible, AppBookShop and others that help pad this number. Even on the high side, it does not come close to the 200,000 applications in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market that is close to 100,000 apps. From the beginning, Palm has pitched the quality over quantity argument.  At the same time, they most certainly realize the importance of these quantity numbers. Lackluster numbers result in less developer interest and a perception among consumers that Palm’s App Catalog won’t offer enough applications to meet their needs. As we approach the one year anniversary of the App Catalog, here are a few suggestions on how to improve the App Catalog.

Palm App Catalog

Apps Categorization

The current method of categorization allows apps to find their way into multiple categories. In my opinion, this has helped Palm fill the virtual app shelves by allowing apps in categories that may or may not be relevant. Let’s use Twee as an example. Palm’s App Catalog has a Twitter category and Twee can be found in that category. It’s also found in Chat and General. Let developers select the proper category for their app. One category. Proper categorization would limit the number of apps within a category. More importantly, as a consumer, you can easily locate apps that are specific to the category selected. I’ve used Twee as an example, but it’s not a problem that is specific to a single developer and it’s hardly an isolated issue. TweetMe, another Twitter client, can be found in “Special Interest”. These are just two apps. Magnify this problem by three thousand apps.

Hottest Apps should be Best Sellers

Like so many of you, I went shopping during Palm’s big half-off all apps sale. One of the the three choices upon enter the App Catalog are “Hottest Apps”. One would think this would represent the best selling applications over a prescribed timeframe. We’ve got big problems if these are the best selling applications in the App Catalog. It’s the middle of July. Unless we’re looking at the best selling apps in Canada, Hockey Live! shouldn’t be listed. Granted, you can sort based upon downloads. By defaulting to ratings, the initial offering isn’t likely to offer any inspiring selections. Instead of showing all 3,000 applications, Palm should offer up the top 100 best selling applications over the previous 60 days. When I visit the App Catalog and select “Hottest Apps”, I want to see apps that are selling well over the past month or so.

App Catalog Best Sellers

Easy Access To Free and Only Categories

This will make it easy for people looking for nothing but free apps. On the flip side, it also makes it easier to wade through the available paid apps. Since developers can offer free versions of their app, they still have an opportunity for the up sell. This could be achieved by either making these top level categories or by allowing a filter.

What’s New Should Be What’s New

Point releases should not be included in what’s new. For one, it’s not new. Secondly, it’s way too easy to game the App Catalog. Each point release puts you at the top of the App Catalog under “What’s New”. Right now, there is entirely too much incentive to push out meaningless updates. Even if this isn’t happening on a wide scale basis, it needs to be improved before the App Catalog sees rapid expansion.

Icon requirements

Nothing worse than browsing the App Catalog and seeing white boxes with icons within them. If they aren’t in place yet, there should be design requirements for application icons. Even Android has icon requirements and the Android Market is full of ugly.

Standardize pricing

On this last one, admittedly I’m nitpicking here. I’m not sure why, but I cringe when I see oddball pricing for an application. Developers can still price their application at fifty cent increments starting at $0.49.

App Catalog Spam

There are options in Homebrew that block certain developers from appearing. That’s a start, but how do we correct the situation for the average joe who isn’t interested in homebrew, but wants an App Catalog that’s not littered with junk titles.

App Catalog Spam

We all want more high-quality apps and that’s understandable. If we can improve the App Catalog experience, it would be easier to find excellent titles that exist now and going forward. This benefits end users, developers and ultimately Palm.

How would you improve the App Catalog?


  1. Some good feedback/thoughts on the Palm App Catalog, a few of which we’ve juggled with and/or are going to incorporate to make desktop based discovery easier for the consumer.

    -‘Free’ is one that is missing right now from Mobspot as a category, that’s a quick/easy win for all parties.
    -Hottest. We’re looking to have a few definitions of hottest, as going by your definition of best sellers leaves out all the free apps. We’re looking at a few definitions of ‘hot’ – sales, velocity (downloads over a finite time period), etc., and still grappling with how we want to define.
    -New (with ‘updated’ defined as new). Frustrating to say the least and leads to gaming, same as on iTunes. Until we incorporate our own shopping cart/checkout we can’t do anything there :(

    For me, ultimately, the best way to improve the App Catalog is to get the devices into more hands so that there is demand, casuing developers to actually care about the Palm/webOS consumer. There aren’t a ton of shops that will focus their efforts on a relatively unsupported at the OEM level audience with a market share that isn’t much more than a rounding error relative to the market leaders. Until that happens it’s going to be like programming for the Amiga circa-1989.

  2. Charles Kuttner says:

    > Granted, you can sort based upon downloads.

    You can? How?

    I’ve bought only one or two paid apps, and it’s a total pain, compared to buying from the Apple App Store. Typing in all the digits of my credit card each time? Ridiculous!

  3. yup can’t by # of downloads should state sort by rating.
    sadly the price of a “well stocked” catalog is spam and redundancy. There are many apps in Droidstore and in the (cr)istore, most are repeats or be a fan of… or something that’ll hold you for 30 seconds then you are bored.
    finally I really would like to see some sort of try before you buy, and you bought this list (for those of us who try something delete it then an upgrade comes out…also would allow us to rate crappy apps we deleted.

  4. It’s funny that you mention the apps in the Palm App Catalog versus what’s being offered in Apple’s AppStore & The Google Market – I actually swithced to Google for a number of reasons, the apps being one of the leading causes. I checked out the site today wondering what was going on with WebOS & I have to admit, I love my Android and I’m not at all disappointed to have left the WebOS family. I don’t know what Palm & HP are going to do to get back into the game, but wow they are really far behind and Google is taking off like a rocket ship!! What do you guys think?

  5. Thexflash31 says:

    They should put better apps and more new things that the new touch phones have

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