Remember when smartphones were called personal organizers and they weren’t phones? Palm Inc. owned that space, with plenty-o-business people carrying around a Treo or Centro, along with a regular1 phone for voice. Then the Great Convergence happened and Palm fell to the back of the business-oriented all-in-one mobile device pack, even though it embraced and added better2 voice functionality.
Now Palm is planning a freshening up that the device-maker hopes will bring it roaring back to the middle of the ongoing smartphone frenzy. A first step is Tuesday’s announcement that it has refreshed its application delivery strategy to provide a mobile phone-top version of its adorably retro-named “Software Store.”
Like the now-fabled Apple App Store, Google’s Android Market and the soon-to-be-debuted (and highly anticipated) BlackBerry Application Center, the Software Store is the place to go to access and download third-party apps for your handset. It should be noted that Palm beat everyone else to the punch on that by years (hence the aforementioned retro name): Software Center’s not new. What is new, however, is the ability to access it and download apps over the air via the handset itself. Call it Palm App Stuff 2.0.
The refresh, made possible thanks to Pocketgear, allows 25 Palm devices running either Palm and Windows Mobile OS to access more than 5,000 apps and games, about 1,000 of which are free. The sheer variety and volume spanks Android Market for choice, by the way. Google can boast only 500+ apps right now. Granted, that’s only for one device, so developers have been slow to embrace Android. Apple still has a big edge with 10,000+ applications available. RIM, like Palm, has had third-party application development going on for years, so it’s likely that it too will debut the BlackBerry storefront with an embedded base of options in the thousands.
That said, Palm is only giving developers 50 percent of the revenue cut, compared with the 70 percent they get from Google and Apple and the 80 percent RIM shares.
At any rate, with the app access side updated to match current table stakes, Palm will soon make another move to get people interested in it again with an announcement reportedly slated for CES on January 8. Rumor has it that a new Palm OS will make its debut, dubbed “Nova,” and the news might include a new device or two. The announcement might finally lay to rest other rumors swirling around that Palm will go for Android rather than develop its own new operating system.
As it is, Nova will join BlackBerry, Android, various other Linux flavors, Symbian, Apple and Windows Mobile in the fight for device OS king-of-the-hill-ness.
*1,2Words added for clafirication