Verizon Wireless to Open App Store

Verizon Wireless will launch a carrier-branded mobile application store for developers based on Java ME at some point later this year, a Verizon spokesman has confirmed.

The carrier is giving developers proprietary information to nurture app development, and is “hosting an apps developer conference July 28 in Silicon Valley to this end,” a Verizon Wireless spokesman told

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) CEO Lowell McAdam said yesterday at the JavaOne conference that the company will support Java, a significant change of course in strategy for a carrier that has long supported Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ: QCOM) BREW technology for application development and distribution.

The app store will initially focus on smartphones, but could eventually extend to most of the the carrier’s wireless subscriber base, the spokesman said.

While Verizon said it plans to publish specifications for the store in late July, the company declined to comment on business models, revenue sharing or a more precise launch date.

Smartphone applications are becoming increasingly popular, with everyone from mobile network operators to software developers to handset makers trying to cash in on the nascent market. Additionally, recent data suggests that smartphone app usage is set to quadruple in the next five years.

The phenomenon took off after the success of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Store for the iPhone, which now has about 35,000 applications and more than a billion downloads.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) answered by opening its own app store in April, while the Google-backed Open Handset Alliance has one for the Android mobile open source platform. The make-or-break Palm Pre goes on sale Saturday, with a beta version of its own app store for webOS. Also on tap: Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) mobile app store, with the Redmond software giant also looking to get in on the action.

On the developer app side, eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) has plans for an app store that will cater to its sellers, and Sun Microsystem’s (NASDAQ: JAVA) Java Store is set to open this summer.

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