Microsoft to launch iPhone App Store rival

Microsoft is preparing to cook up a rival to Apple's iPhone's App Store and counter last week's announcement of Google's Android Market.

An advert placed on the Seattle-based is seeking a senior product manager for "Skymarket".

The role is described as "a unique opportunity and time of rapid change in the mobile industry for a senior product manager in the Mobile Communications Services team to drive the launch of a v1 marketplace service for Windows Mobile."

Microsoft isn't wasting any time, claiming one of the key roles of the job will be "preparation and driving the cross-group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall."

The job ad also suggests Windows Mobile 7 might be released earlier than thought, identifying another key responsibility as "preparation and driving the cross-group collaboration with stakeholders in the commercial launch of the marketplace service with the launch of WM 7". Windows Mobile 7 wasn't expected to launch until the second half of next year.

Microsoft's entry into the mobile applications marketplace could be seen as another example of the company missing the boat. Apple's App Store reportedly clawed in $30 million of revenue in its first month of sales alone, while Google's Android Marketplace was announced before the company's mobile operating system has even reached the market.

Microsoft has, of course, been in the smartphone market for far longer than either of its two rivals. Yet, according to a report from Canalys earlier this year, Apple is outselling all of the Windows Mobile device vendors combined.

That might explain why Microsoft is now keen to derive extra revenue from the huge installed base of Windows Mobile device owners.

Barry Collins

Barry Collins is an experienced IT journalist who specialises in Windows, Mac, broadband and more. He's a former editor of PC Pro magazine, and has contributed to many national newspapers, magazines and websites in a career that has spanned over 20 years. You may have seen Barry as a tech pundit on television and radio, including BBC Newsnight, the Chris Evans Show and ITN News at Ten.