Microsoft eyes mobile app store

Skymarket to challenge iTunes?


Microsoft is looking like it may launch an application repository in response to the success of Apple's iTunes application store and Google's announcement that Android will be similarly endowed. Or is it?

Recent job adverts, grabbed by i started something, are for a Product Manager and Senior Product Manager and describe Skymarket as 'the place to be' for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications", with a launch scheduled for "this fall", along with Windows Mobile 7.

While the existence of the adverts might seem conclusive, Microsoft Watch, with admirable cynicism, suggests the whole thing might be a cheap PR stunt from the chaps in Redmond - pointing out that the advert appeared on US Labor Day, a slow-news day when coverage would be guaranteed, and that one of the adverts disappeared within a day.

But the idea of Microsoft launching its own application portal shouldn't come as any surprise: Apple has iTunes, Nokia is still pushing Ovi, and Google has announced the Android Marketplace, so it seems each of the smartphone platforms is to have its own application store - leaving the former duopoly of Motricity and Handango in a very tenuous position.

At the beginning of 2005 Microsoft was already privately expressing concern over the power of that duopoly and the effect it was having on mobile application distribution. Motricity and Handango don't just run their own application portals - they also run those found on most network operators, so their control over the mobile-software market is considerable.

Ovi hasn't exactly got the companies quaking in their boots yet, but its early days and a launch from Microsoft would further squeeze its business model - though at least it can be confident of still having one. Neither Nokia nor Microsoft will launch anything like iTunes, with its exclusive access to punters' wallets: both companies publicly claim to embrace competition, but also want to ape the simplicity that the heavily-integrated iTunes can provide.

Only the Brew platform compares to iTunes, with its absolute control over application distribution, though for the time being at least that's under the control of the operator rather than the device manufacturer. But with the mobile phone industry mutating so swiftly, nothing should be discounted. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Google has more reasons why it doesn't like antitrust law that affects Google
    It'll ruin Gmail, claims web ads giant

    Google has a fresh list of reasons why it opposes tech antitrust legislation making its way through Congress but, like others who've expressed discontent, the ad giant's complaints leave out mention of portions of the proposed law that address said gripes.

    The law bill in question is S.2992, the Senate version of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), which is closer than ever to getting votes in the House and Senate, which could see it advanced to President Biden's desk.

    AICOA prohibits tech companies above a certain size from favoring their own products and services over their competitors. It applies to businesses considered "critical trading partners," meaning the company controls access to a platform through which business users reach their customers. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta in one way or another seemingly fall under the scope of this US legislation. 

    Continue reading
  • Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near
    Overhaul of Chrome add-ons set for January, Google says it's for all our own good

    Special report Seven months from now, assuming all goes as planned, Google Chrome will drop support for its legacy extension platform, known as Manifest v2 (Mv2). This is significant if you use a browser extension to, for instance, filter out certain kinds of content and safeguard your privacy.

    Google's Chrome Web Store is supposed to stop accepting Mv2 extension submissions sometime this month. As of January 2023, Chrome will stop running extensions created using Mv2, with limited exceptions for enterprise versions of Chrome operating under corporate policy. And by June 2023, even enterprise versions of Chrome will prevent Mv2 extensions from running.

    The anticipated result will be fewer extensions and less innovation, according to several extension developers.

    Continue reading
  • I was fired for blowing the whistle on cult's status in Google unit, says contractor
    The internet giant, a doomsday religious sect, and a lawsuit in Silicon Valley

    A former Google video producer has sued the internet giant alleging he was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle on a religious sect that had all but taken over his business unit. 

    The lawsuit demands a jury trial and financial restitution for "religious discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and related causes of action." It alleges Peter Lubbers, director of the Google Developer Studio (GDS) film group in which 34-year-old plaintiff Kevin Lloyd worked, is not only a member of The Fellowship of Friends, the exec was influential in growing the studio into a team that, in essence, funneled money back to the fellowship.

    In his complaint [PDF], filed in a California Superior Court in Silicon Valley, Lloyd lays down a case that he was fired for expressing concerns over the fellowship's influence at Google, specifically in the GDS. When these concerns were reported to a manager, Lloyd was told to drop the issue or risk losing his job, it is claimed. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022