Just today I've come across a tidbit on CliePlanet about PalmGear now requiring visitors to become "members" via a free sign-in screen, in order to download software from their website. I suspect as this new policy becomes widely known in the Palm community there are going to be many unhappy campers.
I suspect some of the reasons behind this policy change at PalmGear may be related to high bandwidth costs (related to all the downloads they serve), a desire to pinpoint who is downloading software and as a way to build up an opt-in email database for promotional mailings.
I think this is a mistake. I believe the all-or-nothing membership requirement is not the right way to go about managing bandwidth, tracking downloads, building mailing lists or whatever PalmGear is aiming for. Requiring visitors to become a member is a hassle, and one that many will avoid unless it is shown to be truly beneficial to them, especially since downloads did not require membership last week.
I would have rather seen PalmGear use a positive approach. Why not make membership an option that's so attractive, frequent visitors would immediately want to join? Attractions might include chances to win cool software or hardware, access to members-only promotions and discounts, and access to a MyPalmGear feature with custom app lists and other exclusive features. Make membership a special privilege rather an obstacle for your visitors to overcome.
In fact, Handango, PalmGear's rival software site, already tried this approach a few years ago, only to make membership an option a short time later. I guess we will see how things go for PalmGear.
Meanwhile, if you want to get software from PalmGear but do not want to become a member to do so, I've found a nice workaround posted at CliePlanet by a reader named Brian:
Be aware that this workaround might soon disappear.
"You can still download items from palmgear.com without having to register with the site. If the item you want to download can be StreamLync'ed, just right click on the StreamLync icon, select 'Save Target As...' (In IE), and change the file extension from *.pgz to *.zip in the resulting dialog box before pressing enter. It will download without requiring you to register, and the resulting file is a valid *.zip archive. Enjoy."
Here are some alternate Palm software sites: VersionTracker, EuroCool and FreewarePalm. I also like to use Google once I know what an app's name is. I just enter the criteria "app name+palm" in the Google search field to locate the developer's website directly. Works great.