As well all know, Microsoft is very anxious to get in on the app store act, for the simple reason that, in the few seconds it took me to write the first clause of this sentence, around 200 apps were sold on the App Store: in ten hours time, when I’m catching the first few minutes of the latest Harry Potter film, nearly a quarter of a million more apps will have winged their way from Apple’s virtual shelves.
But in the countdown to the Windows Marketplace for Mobile launch – no date has been announced, but the store is expected to open for business in October-November – mobile media company Handmark has jumped the gun and launched a competing app store.
The store, Handmark Apps for Windows Mobile, currently contains just 1,200 apps (including games) – fairly small beer by the app store standards of Handango and GetJar, let alone Apple – and is only offered to North American customers, but (a) has indicated that it will expand internationally in the coming months and (b) is unlikely to be the last competition that Microsoft faces as it seeks to become the dominant app retailer for its own OS.
And yet, while Handmark will seek to use the window before Microsoft’s launch (pun intended) to establish a loyal user base amongst Windows Mobile handset owners, it could conceivably also work to Microsoft’s advantage, by encouraging users to become accustomed to downloading apps from a storefront in the first place, before (so Microsoft will hope) they then migrate to its own offering, which will doubtless be a veritable mobile shopping mall jam packed with goodies.
For its part, Microsoft has now begun accepting app submissions from registered developers in 29 countries, and has also published a case study on the Microsoft Developer Network site which details how developers can port iPhone apps to Windows Mobile.
Because, while a good stock of original apps is essential, some of those iPhone apps have proved very popular with consumers. Hence the thousands sold on the App Store while this blog was written…