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The App Store Bandwagon: Who’s Next?

Today marks the beginning of GSMA Mobile World Congress (formerly 3GSM World Congress) week in Barcelona Spain, which stands as the world’s largest exhibition in the mobile industry, bringing together a host of mobile operators and equipment vendors.

Mobile World Congress 2009Last year’s event provided manufacturers with the opportunity to display their touch capable smartphones in efforts to come within a competing stride of Apple’s iPhone. While numerous gadgets will debut at the expo this year, the iPhone remains the looming force with heavy attention being focused on the iTunes App Store that now boasts over 20,000 applications. Such success brings envy as the other top mobile manufacturers are using the Mobile World Congress to unveil applications marketplaces of their own.

Fortune notes that this year’s highlights will include the following:

Nokia’s Ovi Store: An online app and media portal that comes “pre-integrated” on Nokia’s (NOK) new N97, but will be available for download on a slew of existing Nokia phones come May.
Windows Marketplace: Along with a new version of Windows Mobile, Microsoft (MSFT) announced Monday that it will open a new Windows Marketplace offering — you guessed it — 20,000 apps, some of which actually run on mobile devices.
App Store for Symbian: PocketGear, which had previously built its own Palm App Store and an App Store for Windows Mobile, unveiled an App Store for Symbian, the operating system that runs Nokia’s smartphones. How it will compete with the Ovi Store remains to be seen.
Android Market: Google (GOOG) opened an application marketplace for the Android platform last October, but so far it has only accepted free apps. Look for an announcement from Google this week about how that’s going to change.
BlackBerry Applications Center: Research in Motion (RIMM) invited developers to submit programs to its forthcoming Applications Center in October. We may be hearing more this week about when that will open for business.
Palm Software Store: This one went live in December with 2,000 apps and 1,000 free games available for download to both Palm (PALM) OS devices and Windows Mobile.

One other major headline that is making waves in Barcelona is Adobe’s announcement that it expects to ship a fully operational version of their flash player that will be set to run on Windows Mobile, Google’s Android, Nokia’s Symbian and Palm’s OS in 2010. Apple’s iPhone remains off of the list as CEO Steve Jobs has been known to oppose Adobe’s flash player, noting that it was simply not good enough to run on his device.

The Official GSMA Mobile World Congress website has live streaming video of the event that can be viewed here.

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