Palm releases its own app store. So what?

Device maker now has a downloadable app store, but will it make a difference to Palm's overall market share? Not likely.

In the year since Palm released the Centro as an attempt to revive its lagging business, I've barely heard a whisper about new applications or energy for the Treo and Centro lines. Yet late Monday night, the device maker released its own app store download for Centro and Treo users to more easily access the applications.

The arrival of Palm's free app store--for both Windows Mobile and Palm operating systems--was undoubtedly spurred on by the success of Apple's iPhone App Store, Google's Android Market, and the upcoming BlackBerry app store that's slated to debut in March.

Palm App Store on Centro

Palm's nexus of downloads includes over 5,000 applications, about a fifth of them freebies. Yet with the exception of Facebook, few appear to be the fresh takes on multimedia and social networking that have defined modern applications. A press release trumpets Nursing Central, Encyclopedia Britannica, Pac-Man, Tetris, and Fish Tycoon as its hot apps.

While Palm may hope its storefront will coax developers to submit variations of their innovative iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android apps to the store, the offering so far adds little strength to Palm's lagging market position.

Still, getting an app store out before BlackBerry does provide some credibility. More importantly, it will undoubtedly please existing Palm users, the most important ingredient for Palm's continued existence in the vicious and volatile mobile marketplace.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.

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