Microsoft plans on opening its Windows Marketplace to mobile applications from outside developers, as it seeks a competitive advantage against Apple, Research In Motion, Palm and others currently competing in the mobile-application field. Windows Mobile 6.5 will offer new features such as a full Web browser with built-in Flash support and on-screen icons designed to be manipulated with a finger.
plans to open its Windows Marketplace to mobile-application developers at the
end of July 2009, as it seeks to gain traction against competitors such as Apple
and Research In Motion in the ever-more-contentious mobile app space.
The announcement comes as Microsoft prepares to gear up Windows
Mobile 6.5, the next version of its mobile interface due in the second half of
. Windows Mobile 6.5 will offer a full Web browser with built-in Flash
support and on-screen icons designed to be manipulated with a finger as opposed
to a stylus.
"I'm pleased to report that Windows Marketplace is on schedule to open
for submissions in 29 supported countries on July 27," Todd Brix, senior
director for Microsoft's mobile platform services product management, wrote in
a corporate blog posting on July 14. "We're already working with a wide range
of leading developers for both business and consumer applications."
The products those developers create will be "ready for download when
Windows Marketplace launches with Windows Mobile 6.5 in the fall," Brix
added. "To make things a little more interesting, later this month we'll
also be announcing the details of a developer contest that will kick off at
Windows Marketplace will be available for devices equipped with older
versions of Windows Mobile, specifically Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1, by the end
of 2009. This move in particular opens another 30 million devices to
The upcoming Windows Mobile ecosystem will include Windows
Center, which will contain business
applications from companies such as Avanade UK,
Formotus, Ilium Software, Pyxis Mobile and WebIS.
According to a report by Juniper Research, the
number of mobile application downloads will approach nearly 20 billion per year
. In addition to Microsoft, Palm, RIM and Google have all been
developing their own mobile-application ecosystems: Palm's App Catalogue passed
the 1 million downloads mark on June 24, 19 days after the debut of the Palm Pre, while
Google has its Android Market, RIM has the BlackBerry App World, and Nokia
recently launched the Ovi Store.
All of these companies, in
their different ways, are trying to catch the Apple App Store
, from which
users have downloaded over 1.5 billion apps, according to Apple. The App Store
currently has over 65,000 apps and more than 100,000 developers enrolled in Apple's
iPhone Developer Program.