The company is trying to one-up Apple's App Store by offering carriers a hosted virtual store that can reach a broad variety of devices.
It's not just cell phone makers who are jumping into the mobile application store game, as telecom equipment vendor Ericsson is launching a hosted app store aimed at mobile operators.
The company said the success Apple has had with its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch makes having an over-the-air app store a crucial tool for carriers. Apple has attracted more than 50,000 applications and more than one billion downloads since its release about a year ago.
Ericsson said its solution can provide an application-delivery framework that is similar to the App Store, but can reach a broader variety of devices. The App Store can only be accessed by an iPhone or an iPod Touch, but Ericsson said its store could be accessed by entry-level phones, feature phones, and smartphones.
Additionally, Ericsson said it can handle nearly every aspect of the application-delivery infrastructure including the billing process, or setting up the developer community by managing the carrier's application programming interfaces. Mobile operators will also be able to determine how big of a role it wants Ericsson to play with the ecosystem.
The move shows the growing importance of apps in the mobile world, and carriers like Vodafone have already implemented their own ways for consumers to browse, buy, download, and install software on their phones. The apps have the potential to make handsets more attractive to consumers, as well as boost revenue from mobile data usage.
Qualcomm also introduced a similar product earlier this year that's aimed at giving mobile operators a way to deliver apps to a broad variety of handsets. Plaza Retail provides a content distribution and management system for CDMA devices using Brew, Java, Flash, BlackBerry, and future support for Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, LiMo, and webOS.
InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of application delivery. Download the report here (registration required).
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