The smartphone era has not been kind to Openwave Systems (Nasdaq: OPWV). A quick look at a five-year chart tells you that the stock has destroyed about 90% of shareholder value over that span -- and 77% since the first Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone was introduced.

It's not hard to see why: Sales have been dwindling while the losses just keep coming. Openwave reported another extension of those trends Friday as the second quarter saw sales deflating by 20% year-over-year. On the bottom line, a non-GAAP net loss of $0.03 per share was comparable to the $0.04 loss per share in the year-ago quarter. None of this is terribly surprising when reported after the closing bell on a Friday. Forget this quarter as quickly as possible, dear investor. Pretty please?

Rather than trying to explain away the quarter's continued weakness, CEO Ken Denman focused on the future: "Openwave's next generation of products are garnering interest from both new and current customers."

That includes an application deployment platform developed by Openwave and indie app store GatJar, and taken to market by Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S). Openwave aims to give developers a single service through which they can distribute apps to iPhones, Androids, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) Symbian phones, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) BlackBerry devices, and more. If the Sprint-based version gains traction, Openwave hopes to take the same store to other carriers. Sprint stood for 27% of Openwave's sales in the second quarter through this effort and other contracts, making it Openwave's most important customer by far.

If Openwave manages to become the go-to app distributor for cross-platform, cross-carrier applications, it would be a major turning point in the company's history. For now, it's more of an advanced proof of concept with a lot left to prove. Denman says that "this quarter and the next represent the knee in the adoption curve of our new products," and the company hopes to become profitable on the operating level by the start of fiscal 2012.

Is this the start of a turnaround for the ages, or just a fading company trying to keep a stiff upper lip? The answer probably falls in the shades of gray in between these extremes, but I'm buying the app store opportunity. You can follow in my All-Star footsteps to place an "outperform" call on Openwave in CAPS, the Fool's free investing community.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool has written puts on Apple. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.