Palm Launches Its Own App Store

PDA pioneer Palm has been on the ropes for a few years, seemingly unable to gather momentum behind its efforts to repossess and renovate the Palm OS and then introducing (but never shipping) the Foleo companion device…which, somewhat ironically, went over like a lead balloon just before so-called "nettops" became all the rage. Now, Palm is bootstrapping itself into the current mobile rage, opening the Palm Software Store—being run by PocketGear—where Palm device users can obtain more than 5,000 applications and games for their Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices…and more than 1,000 of those items are available for free. The move follows Apple’s well-known (and successful) App Store for iPhone and iPod touch applications, as well as similar efforts from RIM and Google.

The Palm Software Store offers programs that run on more than 25 devices, although (naturally) those devices must have Internet connectivity (via mobile networks or Wi-Fi) to access the store. Palm is also offering a mobile version of the store as a free download, which also comes with a 25 percent discount on a user’s first download when used with the appropriate coupon code. Applications include everything from casual gaming classics like Tetris and Bejeweled to IM applications, social networking apps for Facebook and Twitter, and mobile versions of applications like Quicken. Prices vary by application.

The Palm Software Store comes just as rumors begin swirling about a brand new Palm operating system, dubbed "Nova," which the company will reportedly debut this January at the CES show in Las Vegas—possibly with new Palm devices to accompany it. Industry reports have the new operating system set to land in consumers’ hands in mid-2009; although details are scant (and inconsistent), Nova looks to be a Linux-based operating system with a strong focus on the Internet and Web-based applications, with the company aiming it at a "prosumer" audience who wants more capabilities than what’s offered in the current Palm OS, but who may not need all the enterprise-friendly bells and whistles in Windows Mobile.

In other Palm news, the company has just announced that Douglas Jeffries will be replacing Palm CFO Andy Brown. Brown will stay on through January 2009 to ease the transition; Jeffries was preciously the chief accounting officer at eBay.

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