Microsoft, Nokia Gun for Apple's App Store

Technology firms like Nokia and Microsoft are rushing to open their mobile software stores, hoping to follow the runaway success of Apple's online App Store.

The focus of the mobile phone market has been shifting to software development since Google and Apple entered the mobile market in the past two years. And for good reason: Research firm Strategy Analytics forecasts the value of the mobile content market -- including downloadable games, ringtones, wallpapers, video, mobile TV, text alerts and mobile Web browsing -- to grow 18 percent to $67 billion this year.

In response, Microsoft is planning an "online bazaar" for applications running on its Windows Mobile operating system. At the Mobile World Congress trade show this week in Barcelona, the company unveiled Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a new store providing applications downloadable directly to users' Windows Mobile devices.

Microsoft also showed off new smartphones from partners based on Windows Mobile 6.5, with a new user interface, and a data-syncing service called My Phone, that backs up text messages, photos, video, contacts and other phone information to the Web.

Nokia is also unveiling its download store this week, two industry sources told Reuters. Nokia promised in December to launch its own download store "soon," as the Finnish firm merges its software download store with free media sharing site Mosh and widget service WidSets.

Blackberry maker Research in Motion said last year it plans to launch its app store early this year.

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TAGS:

Microsoft, Apple, Nokia, Windows Mobile, app stores

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