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Vodafone takes on Apple, RIM with app store

Developers can bill customers through Vodafone

Vodafone is setting up an app store, through which software developers will be able to bill customers through their Vodafone accounts for applications for Vodafone mobile handsets.

Vodafone is making a bid for the mobile applications market, by trying to attract developers with the promise of access to its large customer base.

The British mobile telecommunications company announced on Tuesday that developers will only need to create internet applications once in order to reach millions of Vodafone customers using any device. Developers will also be able to charge customers directly through Vodafone's billing system.

Vodafone hopes to benefit from the plan through a revenue-sharing model.

The company also said it will provide partners and developers with customer-controlled access to other network capabilities, such as location awareness, enabling them to create mobile internet services and applications.

The move by Vodafone puts the company in competition with a number of companies in the mobile communications business, including Apple, Nokia, Palm, and RIM (BlackBerry), that operate application stores.

Vodafone is providing developers with a set of network APIs (application programming interfaces) that will enable them to build capabilities such as direct billing and location awareness into their services.

The APIs provide a link between the applications and the Vodafone network by using a new layer of management technology based on Service Oriented Architecture, Vodafone said.

The company had about 289 million customers worldwide at the end of December 2008.


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