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(Reuters) – The
shotgun marriage of Nokia and Microsoft’s smartphone platforms puts
software developers at center stage at the annual Mobile World Congress
starting on Monday in Barcelona.

Last week, Nokia and Microsoft,
the global leaders in mobile phones and software, announced a
wide-ranging alliance which they hope will give them a chance of
building an iPhone killer — but it is still regarded as only a slim

"People had expected Nokia
to fight back but the alliance won’t be able to help Nokia rebound
strongly. It will rather further consolidate the current trend of
Android vendors gaining more market share," said Park Young-joo, an
analyst at Woori Investment & Securities in Seoul.

and Google’s Android have already taken the high ground in the
lucrative smartphone battle by attracting hordes of developers who make
the small software applications, or apps, that make smartphones come

Apple’s iPhone was praised
for its design when it launched in 2007, but it was its App Store that
transformed the industry by allowing users to personalize iPhones with
easy-to-install games, shopping aids and business tools.

Total sales from all app stores are expected to triple this year to $15 billion, research firm Gartner said last month.

developers are doing Android and Apple; they don’t want to do anything
else, even if they are paid for it. It’s going to be very, very
difficult for the others," said Magnus Jern, chief executive of mobile
software house Golden Gekko.

open-source Android software platform, unleashed on the market just two
years ago by Google, has already stormed to the top of the smartphone
platform popularity charts, overtaking Nokia’s Symbian at the end of
last year.

Device makers such as
Samsung Electronics, HTC and Sony Ericsson have embraced it as it offers
features and functions they could never hope to develop on their own as

On Sunday, Sony Ericsson
and Samsung unveiled new models running on Android, with Sony Ericsson
in a long-awaited move bringing Sony’s PlayStation brand to the mobile

Samsung shares rose nearly
4 percent in Seoul on Monday following the launch of new products
including an updated Galaxy tablet computer and on expectations of
further gains in market share.

latest Galaxy tablet has a bigger screen and more processing power than
the original. Some analysts see it as the only real rival to Apple’s iPad.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 is intended to be a multimedia hub for aficionados of
games, electronic books and social media, with a 10.1 inch (25.7
centimeter) screen, dual surround-sound speakers, and front- and
rear-facing cameras.

manufacturers will be trying to attract software developers at the
Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with special events laid on for them.

consortium of telecom carriers, who have so far largely failed to
profit from the apps boom, will also launch their own app platform,
named WAC, on Monday.

are hoping their wholesale store — from which operators’ individual
stores will take content — gives them a scale which is big enough to
battle with Apple and Google.

(Additional reporting by Miyoung Kim, Jungyoun Park and Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul; Editing by Anshuman Daga)