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Vodafone considering a free app store

More of a service than a profit avenue
Vodafone considering a free app store

It’s not at all surprising that any company involved in the mobile industry is contemplating some kind of digital, connected distribution service - a service that’s rapidly becoming known as an app store (for obvious reasons).

The latest rumour comes from Vodafone, which has suggested on the Dutch site Tweakers.net (as translated by Mobile Games Blog) that an application store is in the works for distribution of free software and games for its customers.

The service will be accessible from handsets, and will include free software both from third parties and from Vodafone itself. The system will also be accessible from desktop computers, and will provide software downloads by sending an SMS link to handsets once a selection has been made.

It’s not quite clear yet why paid applications are being excluded, though in all likelihood it’ll be down to pure logistics.

Presumably Vodafone is trailing its app store with the free software so it’s not a huge issue if it winds up going unused. And if things take off, it's got the figures to reassure itself that a full online shop is economically viable.

We’ve heard recently about Palm’s new store being bundled inside its WebOS, and Microsoft is also making a move to get consumers re-enthused about WinMo with the SkyMarket app, and although news has been rather quiet lately, O2’s Litmus store recently went live.

There’s another possible twist in this tale, however.

Rumours have been circulating that Vodafone is vying for exclusivity on the Palm Pre handset, and should this actually happen we have to wonder how comfortably the two app stores (Palm’s and Vodafone’s) would sit side-by-side. Or could they possibly be combined?

All in all, this seems like a very wise move on the part of the service provider, as getting on this bandwagon sooner is much preferable to later - we predict some serious app store wars on the horizon…