First Apple did it, and Microsoft is expected to announce its own this week.
But Nokia beat the operating system vendor to it, announcing its own mobile
application store for the upcoming N97 and other Nokia mobile devices.

The Nokia Ovi Store, announced at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009, will
officially open for business in May, according to Nokia officials. The N97,
which will be released in June, will be the first phone to have the store
software preintegrated, but other Nokia phone users will be able to download
apps when the store opens.

Nokia is the third major cell phone vendor to offer an online app store,
behind Apple and Google. Research In Motion is expected to announce a store for
its BlackBerry line of phones, and Microsoft—the only non-hardware manufacturer
in the group—will debut its Microsoft Mobile Windows platform app store this

Service carriers, such as Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile, all have their
versions of online app stores, but the trend is turning toward manufacturers
offering downloadable apps.

Developers can start downloading their apps to the Ovi Store in March, and
will get 70 percent of the revenue derived from their apps, according to Nokia.
Users can expect to see apps available from such companies as Electronic Arts,
Lonely Planet, Facebook, AccuWeather and MySpace, to name a few.

Although the majority of the apps in the Ovi Store will have a consumer
flair, Nokia hopes business and enterprise apps will find a place in the store,
as has happened with the iPhone store. For now, however, Nokia hopes to capture
a new breed of app-hungry mobile device users with a store that goes beyond the
click-to-download experience.

“This is not just a place to find applications. It’s a smart store that is
not just for smartphones,” says Niklas Savander, executive vice president of
services and software for Nokia. “It actually suggests things you might like
and adds social location dynamics to show you relevant applications. And it
shows you what your friends have bought. And it changes the inventory based on
where you are,” through GPS technology.

Nokia plans to integrate the Ovi store software into all its phones starting
this fall.