With games leading the way, Apple's App Store has been able to surpass the catalog of Microsoft's Windows Mobile.
Apple's App Store has more applications to download than Microsoft's Windows Mobile, according to the mobile analytic company Mobclix.
The company said that as of Monday there were 27,131 applications in the store that can be downloaded for an iPhone 3G or iPod Touch. The number of mobile programs is staggering considering the App Store has been open for about a year. By contrast, Microsoft's mobile operating system has been out for a lot longer than the iPhone, but analysts estimate there are about 20,000 applications.
Apple has the advantage of having an integrated way for customers to easily browse, purchase, download, and install apps directly on the handset. While there are virtual stores like Handango to buy apps over the air for Windows Mobile smartphones, the experience is generally not as smooth as Apple's solution.
Games were the most popular category in the App Store, as Mobclix said there were 6,276 titles. Other reports suggest the iPhone and the App Store have galvanized the mobile gaming industry, and it was a big factor in the market hitting $5.4 billion in 2008.
The success of the App Store has not gone unnoticed by Apple's rivals. Google's Android, Research In Motion's BlackBerry, Nokia, Samsung, and Windows Mobile already or will soon have an online store for distributing mobile programs over the air. These companies will take some cues from Apple, but they will add elements to differentiate their products. For example, Nokia's application store will implement location and social networking to offer suggestions based on what programs friends and contacts are using.
While many developers are working hard to get into the App Store, some believe Apple has too much control over content and distribution. This is leading to multiple unauthorized alternative online markets for iPhone applications.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on rich Internet applications. Download the report here (registration required).
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