Dianne See Morrison
Friday, February 13, 2009 9:00 AM
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) will announce the opening of its applications store at next week's Mobile World Congress, the largest industry gathering for the sector, according to Reuters citing two unnamed sources, and lending more credence to the rumors of a Nokia app store that have swirled on the internet for days now. The news wire reports that the Finnish handset giant that is trying to reinvent itself as an internet services provider had promised in early December to launch its own download store "soon," the likely product of a merging of its software Download! Store with its free media sharing site Mosh and its widget service WidSets.
Nokia is, of course, just one of many industry players jumping on the application store bandwagon, motivated by the runaway success of Apple App Store. In the six months following its July launch, Apple reported that it had 15,000 applications available at its store, and that consumers had conducted some 500 million downloads. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) launched its Android Market in late October, while Palm (NSDQ: PALM) unveiled its online storefront in December. At Mobile World Congress, Korean handset maker Samsung will also launch its version of an online store, which it announced last week. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) will also roll out app stores, but its unclear at this point when this will happen. Even China Mobile, China's dominant network operator wants to get in on the act, apparently spurred on after its talks with Apple to bring the iPhone to China hit a sticking point over which company would control the billing relationship of the App Store.
Can all of these stores succeed? Two things worked in Apple's favor when it launched its App Store. One, it had an installed user base from its iTunes store, and two that user base was already in a billing relationship with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). Some industry players are skeptical that other app stores can mimic the success of the App Store, or at least as quickly as it did, noting that uptake and traction will likely be much slower. Android's store front has been up and running for a few months now, though it does not yet accept paid-for applications. In December, Google reported that Android Market has 800 apps available, though did not disclose download numbers, which you can be sure if they had been as hot as the App Store's they would have been the first ones to brag about it.