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Palm App Store Goes Live; Is Nova OS Far Behind?

As rumors swirl around Palm releasing its new OS next month at CES, the device maker has launched a new application store, similar to Apple's iPhone AppStore.

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The Palm Software Store comes as speculation swirls around the struggling smartphone maker's plans for the Consumer Electronics Show next month. By many accounts, Palm will launch its new mobile operating system, dubbed "Nova," at CES. There's even been word that a device or two running the long-anticipated OS may make an appearance in Las Vegas.

The combination of the Palm Software Store, a new operating system and new devices could spark a much-needed comeback for Palm.

With the new operating system waiting in the wings, the Palm Software Store, launched with partner Pocketgear, lets Palm device users running both Palm's OS and Microsoft Windows Mobile browse and download more than 5,000 applications and games from a Palm device. According to Palm, there are more than 1,000 free applications to choose from; the rest are available for a nominal fee.

Currently, the mobile software store supports more than 25 Palm devices, from the Palm Centro to the Palm Treo Pro.

As part of the store's launch, Palm is offering a 25 percent discount coupon code for the first paid download, instructing users to enter the code SHOPMOBILE during checkout.

Applications available include a host of games, a Facebook application, Pocket Quicken, password applications, maps, encyclopedias and thousands more.

The Palm Software Store is in a similar vein to Apple's App Store for the Apple iPhone 3G; the Android Market for the T-Mobile G1 and other Android-based smartphones; and RIM's recently announced BlackBerry Application Store Front.

Like the others, the Palm Software Store lets developers create and sell applications on the platform to be used on Palm devices.

As the industry anticipates Palm unveiling its new operating system at CES, Palm last week sent out invitations to an event it is hosting at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas during CES. The invite asked attendees to "Come to CES to see all that Palm New-ness you've been waiting for."

That "new-ness" is expected to be Palm's Nova operating system, a Linux-based mobile OS, which Palm has been promising since October 2007. Its current operating system has seen few updates and revisions over the years, resulting in slumping device sales and dwindling market share at the hands of other smartphone makers like Apple and RIM.

Palm has not yet confirmed that Nova is the "new-ness" it's promising and has yet to hint that a version of the Software Store for Nova has been created, but all eyes will be on the device maker next month in Las Vegas.

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