China's First Mobile Application Store Opens

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A Chinese handset maker has opened what it says is the country's first mobile application store, following similar moves by phone vendors abroad to find new sources of revenue.

The store, called Coolmart, currently has about 200 movies, songs and programs such as games either developed or purchased by southern China-based Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific, Gu Yong, the company's marketing director, said by phone Thursday.

Only one phone, the company's Coolpad N900 released this month, can currently access the store, said Gu. That touchscreen handset, which costs almost 6,000 yuan (US$880), supports 3G on the network run by carrier China Telecom, Gu said.

All of the applications are currently free, and Yulong hopes the store will attract more buyers to its high-end phones, Gu said. Yulong may eventually seek revenue from the store by charging for some downloads, he said. It may also consider splitting revenue with developers, who are free to upload their own applications to the store, Gu said.

Yulong will release up to five more handsets that can access the store this year, including phones that use China's other two 3G networks, he said.

China Mobile, which is expanding a network based on China's domestically developed 3G standard, aims to open its own application store this year. The world's largest mobile carrier is one of many companies that hopes to emulate the success of the Apple's App Store, which hit one billion downloads in just nine months and offers tens of thousands of applications for the iPhone.

Nokia opened its own application download platform last month. Google's Android platform offers an application store as well, and Sun this month opened a test version of its store for Java program downloads.

Yulong created its application store to take advantage of 3G's roll-out in China, which is letting mobile users do more on the Internet, Gu said.

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