Palm confirms it will close its retail stores

Although the long-time smartphone maker will "continue to focus around core business initiatives," it's still unknown whether these initiatives will include a new home-grown, Linux-based version of the Palm OS.

A Palm spokesperson today confirmed to BetaNews that the beleaguered smart phone manufacturer and marketer now intends to shut down all of its retail stores.

In response to our inquiry, Yvette Gross-Price, a long-time Palm spokesperson, sent the following "approved" written statement from Palm:

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"We continue to focus our company around core business initiatives and are consolidating more resources behind fewer programs in order to compete most effectively and build world-class, category-defining solutions. We have therefore made the decision to close our retail stores."

Over the past week or so, conflicting rumors have been floating around about Palm, ranging from impending retail store closings to plans by Palm to continue building a previously talked about Linux-based version of the Palm OS, originally slated for delivery in 2009.

Palm did not respond today to a request from BetaNews for comment about the new operating environment, and no further information was immediately forthcoming, either, about Palm's retail closings and other future intentions.

Although it was at one time the kingpin of the handheld device industry, Palm has been beset in recent years by increasingly strong competition from cell phone manufacturers on the hardware side and Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS on the software side.

Palm officials have been touting a new homegrown Linux environment, seen as merging Palm OS support into the Linux kernel, at trade shows over the past year. It's been widely hoped by Linux fans that this new OS -- if it happens -- will help to set Palm free of the need to run Windows software on its own hardware.

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