Microsoft to launch WinMo app store next month?

Microsoft is poised to introduce a series of new mobile services including its long-awaited SkyMarket application storefront at next month's Mobile World Congress trade event in Barcelona, where the software giant's CEO Steve Ballmer is among the scheduled keynoters. Citing sources close to Microsoft, reports the company will go head-to-head with Apple's MobileMe synchronization service with the launch of SkyBox, a new solution that synchronizes mobile device information with the web--in addition to automatic mobile data backup and restoration services, access and management tools and simplified communication and sharing, SkyBox will enable users to sync their contacts, email/SMS, calendar items and photos. Neowin adds that Microsoft will launch SkyBox across multiple mobile operating systems, not just devices running on its own Windows Mobile platform. Also at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft is expected to unveil SkyLine, which will target small businesses via services similar to SkyBox by promising enterprises the companies use their own domain names through a centrally shared Exchange service.

As for SkyMarket, the App Store rival first came to light in September 2008: The centralized virtual marketplace will enable consumers to find, purchase and download applications and content optimized for Windows Mobile devices. An online job advertisement posted last fall initially hinted Microsoft would introduce SkyMarket in conjunction with the debut of Windows Mobile 7, but with the new OS delayed for the foreseeable future, it now appears the company will launch the storefront sooner rather than later. Specifics on SkyMarket remain scarce--the original online ad, calling for a senior product manager, read "This is 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," going on to list responsibilities including "Definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace ‘the place to be' for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications" as well as "Support business development on engagements with mobile operators and integration of the marketplace offering into broader Microsoft services offerings or discussions."

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