Microsoft Opens Its Answer to the Apple App Store

Microsoft launches a Windows Marketplace for Mobile portal, and plans to include an application marketplace on Windows Mobile 6.5 devices. Nokia, with its own application store, Ovi, set to launch in May, is also poised for a piece of this growing market. Like Microsoft's marketplace, Nokia's Ovi will compete against Apple's highly successful Apple App Store.

Microsoft's Windows Marketplace for Mobile portal is now live.
At the Mobile World Congress in February, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the portal that he said would allow customers to browse and download applications using their Windows Mobile 6.5 or earlier phones, and would offer developers the opportunity to connect with Windows Mobile users.
Surely, Microsoft also hopes to compete with the Apple App Store, which features thousands of applications. In only half a year, the App Store has had more than 500 million applications downloaded, according to Reuters.
Until now it's been difficult for Windows Mobile developers to get their applications into the hands of customers. Windows Marketplace for Mobile will ideally change this, Ballmer said, by including an application marketplace in the Start menu of every Windows Mobile 6.5 device-a definitely hard-to-miss location.
While those devices have yet to be released-though a timeline should be available soon, said a source-customers can now access the Windows Marketplace for Mobile Web portal.
The portal offers the ability to search by operating system or by Pocket PC or smartphone, as well as to browse by topics such as "Business and Office Productivity" and "Networking and Communication." Customers are then pointed to available providers. Pocket Quicken, for example, has quick "Buy It Now" buttons to Handango and MobiHand.
Nokia is also looking for a piece of the applications market, and plans to open an online application store called Ovi in May, hopeful of its direct reach to 50 million consumers, versus the 20 million iPhones Apple has sold. Research firm Strategy Analytics forecasts that the mobile content market will grow 18 percent in 2009 to $67 billion.