In the wake of HP's blockbuster decision to kill off its Palm webOS platform for smart phones and tablets, Microsoft's Brandon Watson has come to the rescue: He's offering stranded webOS developers free training on Windows Phone, the mobile platform that both IDC and Gartner feel will be number two in the market, ahead of iPhone, by 2015.
"To any published webOS [developers]," Watson published via Twitter Friday in the wake of HP's announcement. "We'll give you what you need to be successful on Windows Phone, including free phones, dev tools, and training, etc."
According to Watson, the response has been overwhelming, and if his Twitter feed is any indication, he spent much of the weekend personally responding to each request. As a stopgap, he suggested an online developer event called Building Applications for Windows Phone Mango Jump Start, which is aimed at the new version of Windows Phone, version 7.5.
"I'm floored at the number of replies and emails [from] webOS developers looking for a home," he wrote. "I'll personally answer each one. You deserve it."
One email was from a Palm developer relations employee looking for a job, Watson reported.
While Windows Phone has seen only minimal success since its October 2010 launch, it's certainly done better than HP/Palm webOS. More important, perhaps, the Windows Phone developer tools aren't just mature and well-regarded; they're superior to anything offered by Apple, Google, or other mobile OS vendors. And the success of these tools can be seen in the quick deployment of Windows Phone apps: Almost 30,000 in just 10 months.
Predicted future successes notwithstanding, will a flood of webOS developers make a difference for Windows Phone? Probably not. But as Brandon Watson knows--he's the Developer Experience team lead for Windows Phone at Microsoft--developer engagement is a key step in a successful platform. And this is one area where Microsoft has excelled.