Microsoft this week quietly began laying more groundwork for its upcoming competitor to the Apple iPhone App Store, opened the doors for developers to register Windows Mobile applications they plan to sell through the new marketplace.
The news came during Microsoft’s TechEd 2009 technical developers conference in Los Angeles this week.
“Developers can now register to participate in Windows Marketplace for Mobile,” the company’s Windows Mobile team said in a blog post earlier this week.
It’s a market that’s Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) views as, if not ripe for exploitation, at least de rigueur for any wireless vendor to have on the heels of the wild popularity of Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Store, which just surpassed its billionth download from a catalog of more than 35,000 applications on offer.
Many of the apps are free or very low cost, so it’s unclear how much Apple has made from the service. But even so, mobile apps are seen as a key differentiator in the increasingly competitive smartphone market.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is still waiting for handset makers to begin shipping phones based on its new Windows Mobile 6.5 — many of them are slated to arrive later this year. Access to Microsoft, Marketplace for Mobile is a key new feature of 6.5.
While they wait for a platform to run their apps on, though, developers can get all the paperwork filed in advance at least.
Some mobile players have already committed to sell their applications via Microsoft’s store. Among them are AccuWeather.com, the Associated Press, CNBC, Developer One Mobile Software, EA Mobile, Facebook, Gameloft, MySpace, Netflix, Pandora, Sling Media, and Zagat Survey, according to Microsoft.
“This marks another milestone in providing Windows Mobile developers a clear path to develop, test, certify and distribute their Windows Mobile applications via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile,” the Windows Mobile team said in a blog post this week.
Vendors interested in selling their wireless apps via Microsoft’s upcoming Marketplace for Mobile can sign up on the Windows Mobile site.