Palm is joining its rivals in making it easier for customers to search, buy, and download mobile applications with the launch of the Software Store.
Powered by PocketGear, the store offers a centralized location for Palm users to find more than 5,000 apps. Users can download the store to their handsets, and it's compatible with smartphones like the Centro that use the Palm OS, as well as Palm handsets powered by Windows Mobile like the Treo Pro.
While Apple's App Store captures many of the headlines, Palm handsets for years have had a long line of apps that could be downloaded from places like Handango. But this new store gives Palm more control over the distribution of mobile apps.
The store also could be a test run for the company, as it's preparing to roll out the next-generation Palm operating system and handsets next month. The smartphone company is hoping the Nova OS can lead it back to prominence, and mobile applications could play a major factor in its adoption rate.
Mobile apps came to the forefront this year with the launch of the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. By tying it to iTunes, Apple was able to make searching, buying, downloading, and installing apps a simple process. The store has been a hit, as Apple customers have already downloaded more than 300 million apps in about five months.
Apple's rivals have also taken notice of the App Store's success. Google's Android Market takes a similar approach to distributing mobile programs to Android-powered handsets, and Research In Motion soon will have its own centralized application center for its BlackBerry smartphones.
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