Vodafone looks to mobile apps

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Vodafone has joined the mobile applications race with its own store that lets developers deliver apps to any of its customers regardless of the device they're using.

Developers will be able to sell to any of Vodafone's 289 million customers around the world from a "single point of contact", charging directly through the mobile operator's billing system. They'll keep 70 per cent of the bill and pass the rest to Vodafone.

The applications will hit the UK and Europe by the end of the year, Vodafone told Reuters.

Mobile app stores are growing in popularity and have been popping up ever since Apple's App Store, which features applications for the iPhone.

Last month, Apple announced that a billion applications had been downloaded. Analysts have said the market could top $25 billion in the next five years, and right now Apple holds about 56 per cent of the market.

Unsurprisingly then, Nokia, Microsoft and [a href="https://www.itpro.com/610389/rim-takes-on-apple-with-blackberry-app-world"]BlackBerry parent RIMhave launched their own versions, as has Google for its Android system.

Aside from the store, Vodafone has also released an application programming interface (API) to link up applications to its network, letting developers use technologies like location awareness in their creations.

"Vodafone is making these changes to make it easier for third parties to develop attractive new services as well as bill and support our customers through our network capabilities in all markets," said Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone, in a statement.

"By giving them simple access to our global customer base and network assets, such as direct billing and location awareness, we will help them to make more money while providing our customers with the innovative services that they want," he added.