Microsoft announced July 27 that it is accepting application submissions for Windows Marketplace for Mobile, its store for Windows Mobile smartphone applications.
Submissions for mobile-device applications will be accepted from 29 supported countries. By the time Windows Marketplace launches in fall 2009, Microsoft plans to have 600 applications available. While certainly a large number, however, it lags behind Apple's App Store, which currently features over 65,000 apps.
In a bid to appeal to the enterprise, Microsoft plans to feature a dedicated section for business applications on Windows Mobile for Marketplace. The store will support applications for not only Windows Mobile 6.5, the latest version, but also Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1.
Microsoft evidently hopes opening its application store to an expanded number of devices will help gain market share from Apple, Research In Motion, Google and other competitors in the mobile space. The rewards for success are potentially vast; according to a recent report by Juniper Research, some 20 billion mobile applications will be downloaded annually by 2014.
"Registered developers and ISVs can now upload their application, game or widget to the Windows Marketplace platform and we'll begin certifying those apps according to the process, policies and guidelines we've published," Todd Brix, senior director for Microsoft's Mobile Platform Services Product Management, wrote in a July 27 corporate blog post. "We certify apps on a First In, First Out (FIFO) basis."
Brix went on to add that application certification should take 10 business days, and the status of applications can be checked through the Developer Dashboard. Guidelines for developers can be found here, (PDF) while submission requirements can be found here (PDF) and policies here. (PDF)
Should an application not pass the certification process, Microsoft plans on kicking back a report detailed with the various tests and checks to identify the problem.
"Our strategy for all of this is pretty straightforward: We want to create a global marketplace for Windows Phones where developers and users meet to sell and buy high-quality and high-value applications," Brix said. "These are new customer experiences, and frankly, capabilities that will set us apart."
In order to promote the application-submission launch, Microsoft is also hosting a Race to Market Challenge, which will offer four Microsoft Surface tables as prizes for applications judged in the categories of Most Playful, Most Useful, Most Valuable (downloads versus price) and Most Downloads of a Free App. That contest will run until the end of 2009; details can be found on this site.