Mega-store coming to town


Imagine a town where a new store opens on the main street every few months. Sign of a healthy local economy.

Seems to be that way for application stores: There's a smell of new paint over at at Nokia's Ovi store, which recently decided to close its charity branch, ready for its imminent opening, Rim's App World's already had its grand opening (although people are still having trouble finding where it is) and the open-air stalls are filling up down near the tourist information booth in Google's App Market for Android phones. And still, the big success story has been Apple's app store, with its loud, hip music, serving its billion app and making many of its own headlines (and seducing some notable engineers).

But yesterday's news that Vodafone is going to open its own store by the end of this year is like the signs going up at the edge of town that a big box megastore store is opening up against the backdrop of what are starting to look like a collection of small specialty stores: Apple's wildly successful app store has a maximum reach of 31million users. Rim's store caters to only one kind of customer, those with a Blackberry, and so on.

Vodafone's store will be able to open its doors to nearly 300million users, or a billion if you include the ones it can get through Verizon in the US and China Mobile in Asia. And all those millions of shoppers already have a store account there, they just didn't know it. And while technical details are eerily scarce, it appears to be aiming at muliple platforms to do so.

2009 is indeed turning out to be the year of the application store.

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