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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
Market for Android phones. And still, the big success story has
Apple's app store, with its loud,
hip music, serving
its billion app and making
of its own headlines (and seducing
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
account there, they just didn't know it. And while technical details
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.