Hey Palm: Take A Deep Breath. Leaks Happen. Be Proud. [Updated]

Just days ago, Palm revealed a bunch of details surrounding webOS 2.0, which, as the name implies, is an upcoming major update to their webOS platform. Shortly thereafter, they released a big chunk of webOS 2.0 to a small section of their development community as part of a Beta program.

Almost immediately, someone unearthed one little bit that Palm didn’t intend anyone to find: a lingering mention of a virtual keyboard — something which webOS doesn’t have, and that Palm has yet to confirm as a feature.

So, what do you think Palm did? Did they pull the stone-face routine, and say they don’t comment on rumors and speculation? Did they send out an e-mail saying “Hey guys, we gotta be more careful!” and move on? Nope. They freaked the hell out.

That Beta program we mentioned before? It’s now closed until further notice.

Earlier, Palm’s webOS Developer Connection team tweeted out:

Because of the leak, we are freezing new admissions to early access for the time being. If you’re in queue, you’re going to stay in queue

followed by:

for now, if you didn’t get access, you can thank the leaker for causing this delay in us getting you access. sorry about this, folks.

Yep. Because one person had loose lips and decided to share something they were excited about, Palm is keeping a bunch of people who are eager to make crap for their platform from doing so. Palm, who has been having a hard time getting people to make stuff for their platform, is actively turning away (or at least cold-shouldering) people who are interested in making stuff, and pinning the whole thing on one guy. What. The. Hell.

To make things worse, this leak is about as trivial as they come. Palm has a webOS-powered tablet coming. Unless Palm’s expecting everyone to lug around a keyboard or their tablet is going to have some sort of monstrous keyboard built in, webOS will have to have a virtual keyboard.

Look, Palm. I love you. You’re the very bastion of breaking the mold, and I cheer for you to the point that MobileCrunch readers have often accused me of being crazy or on the payroll — but this.. is absolutely, jaw-droppingly stupid.

Leaks happen. Every single day, to every single company who is actively working on anything even remotely interesting. Even if you’ve got the nastiest NDA in the world, it dilutes pretty quickly as thousands upon thousands of people begin to carelessly sign it. If your goods aren’t leaking, it’s for one of three reasons: you’ve got insane security practices, your team is tiny, or because no one cares. The fact that someone was interested enough to tear through your SDK for hidden morsels and that media outlets started picking it up is a compliment. This is akin to that goofy kid in school shouting “NO, I HATE YOU!” and running away the first time they get invited to sit at the cool kid’s table.

Here’s what you do, Palm: Don’t want people knowing about something? Don’t put it in your SDK. If you forget to pull something, as seems to be the case here, just play it cool, remove it from the next build, and ride the hype-wave as people argue about whether such and such feature is actually coming. Don’t let employees comment on it, don’t go bonkers, and most importantly, don’t punish the people who actually seem to love your product.

While it’s confirmed that the @webOSDev account is run by someone at Palm, it’s hard to believe that this is Palm’s official response in the matter. We’ve reached out to Palm for something a bit more.. sane.

Update – What Happened:

We just got off the horn with Palm communications, whose official statement was… well, that they don’t talk about rumors or speculation, including stuff like this.

However, we also had the chance to speak with a source of ours who happened to have some inside knowledge of what all went down. Yes, the Twitter account in question is run by one of Palm’s Developer Relations guys. With that said, none of today’s events (from the finger-pointing tweets to the shutdown of the Beta program) were approved by the those who would generally make such decisions. One employee knee-jerked, choosing to punish the entire community for the actions of one.

Update #2 – Betas Back

Palm has just announced via the same Twitter account that the Beta has been reopened, saying that there is “No reason to make everyone pay the price here.” We obviously agree.