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2/17/2009
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Nokia Jumps Into Application Store Game

The world's largest cell phone manufacturer will take on rivals Apple, RIM, Microsoft and Google with an app store that capitalizes on social networking features.

Nokia will be taking on its competitors with an over-the-air application store of its own, but it's hoping to use location and social networks to differentiate from the alternatives.

At the Mobile World Congress Monday, the world's largest cell phone manufacturer introduced the Ovi Store for delivering applications to Nokia phones. The virtual storefront will open in May, and developers can start contributing programs now to publish.ovi.com.

Mobile applications have been offered by mobile handset vendors such as Handango for years, but sales really came to the forefront with the overwhelming success of Apple's App Store for the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch. Google, Research In Motion, and Microsoft are also committed to similar methods of distributing applications to their mobile platforms.

Nokia is hoping to outdo its rivals by opening its Ovi Store to more than just smartphones. While high-end devices such as the N97 will have it preloaded, Nokia eventually wants its entire fleet of handsets to have access to the store. The company also wants to track where users are downloading apps and offer suggestions based on what programs their contacts and friends are using.

"This is not just a place to find applications," said Niklas Savander, Nokia's executive VP of services and software, at a press conference. "It's a smart store. That is not just for smartphones. It actually suggests things you might like and adds social location dynamics to show you relevant applications, and show you what your friends have bought. And it changes the inventory based on where you are."

The revenue distribution will be similar to Apple's store, as developers will get 70% of the revenue from any sold application. Companies such as Electronic Arts, Facebook, Fox Mobile, Lonely Planet, and MySpace have committed to developing applications for Nokia's store.

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