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Mozilla free-love coders caressed by Palm

Chastise Apple's 'Orwellian' smartphone lockdown

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Two prolific open web standards advocates at Mozilla are leaving the non-profit foundation for Palm, vowing to spread their developer-centric gospel to the smartphone maker's webOS platform.

Ajaxian.com co-founders Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith have accepted new positions helming Palm's developer relations team. The duo announced their change of venue on their blogs this Friday.

"I have only really dabbled in the mobile world until now. I have always been excited about consumer electronics, but never really got into the developer environments," wrote Almaer. "I remember looking at the testing setups at companies such as Google, and realizing the pain in getting applications working across a huge slew of different proprietary API and capability. There is a massive opportunity with Palm webOS to give Web developers the ability to deploy outside the browser, and onto the device."

At Mozilla, the pair helped create Bespin, a web-based code editor with an emphasis on developer collaboration and code-swapping. Galbratith wrote today he believes the next push in development lies in the mobile market — although current restrictions are in need of a shake-up.

"My enthusiasm for this amazing new world is tempered by some unfortunate decisions by some of the players in this space," he said. "It seems that some view this revolution as a chance to seize power in downright Orwellian ways by constraining what we as developers can say, dictating what kind of apps we can create, controlling how we distribute our apps, and placing all kinds of limits on what [we] can do to our computing devices."

Obviously, a thinly-veiled jab at Apple, whose notorious hermetic seal on the iPhone App Store has recently spurred an investigation by the US Federal Communications Commission.

While Palm's WebOS and toolkit, Mojo, implement open standards like JavaScript and HTML5, it remains to be seen if the company will be as free and easy with development as Almaer and Galbraith hope for. The platform simply doesn't have the audience that Apple's ubiquitous device carries — leaving philosophical directives up to speculation until some notable apps that potentially undercut Palm's business scheme begin to appear. ®

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