The companies hope that piggybacking on the phenomenal success of Apple's "App Store", which allows users to download games and other services, will help them to counter a collapse mobile phone sales. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, who yesterday launched the company's Windows Marketplace service at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, said the store will take mobile phones to "another level". "It's no longer about how the phone works by itself but how it works with the internet," he said. "It is your instant access to all the people and information that you care about." Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone company, and the network operators O2 and Orange also launched rival stores. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia's chief executive, said the company will collect 30pc of the revenue paid to software developers, such as EA Games and Lonely Planet, through its Ovi application store. The moves come as the industry tries to find new revenue streams as mobile phone sales are expected to decline by 10pc this year.It will be only the second time the industry has contracted since mobiles were invented in the 1980s.
Analysts expect Apple's App Store to generate more than $800m (£556m) in its first year. Since the service was launched last July more than 500m applications, from games to interactive travel guides, have been downloaded. Tony Cripps, principal analyst at mobile phone consultancy Ovum, said: "Every man and his dog wants an apps store. Apple's has been such a phenomenal success that all the other players are desperately trying to play catch-up as traditional revenues fall."Orange and O2's apps stores – called Orange Portal and O2 Litmus respectively – could anger their mobile phone-making partners as the marketplaces will go head-to-head with their own stores.Yves Maitre, head of Orange Devices, said the launch would help "drive continued demand of mobile broadband use". James Parton, head of O2 Litmus, said: "O2 is creating not just another apps store, but a completely consumer-led series of useful applications". ( www.telegraph.co.uk )