New Nokia app store to leverage Windows Phone Marketplace infrastructure

A little over two months following the bombshell announcement that Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will embrace Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system as its primary smartphone platform, the two companies officially signed a definitive agreement finalizing the details of their partnership, stating they've already begun joint outreach efforts targeting third-party application developers. Microsoft and Nokia said they will work together to support the creation of new applications tailored for both local and global markets, rolling out a new Nokia-branded global app store that leverages the existing Windows Phone Marketplace infrastructure--the store will offer developers a single portal to publish and distribute applications available for Windows Phone, Symbian and Series 40 devices.

The new Nokia-branded app store also will incorporate the handset maker's worldwide operator billing partnerships: Nokia boasts agreements with 112 carriers in 36 markets. To further sweeten the deal, Nokia and Microsoft will make Windows Phone developer registration free to all Nokia developer partners.

Nokia and Microsoft have said they plan to forge a worldwide mobile ecosystem integrating their respective assets--for example, Microsoft's Bing engine will power search across Nokia devices and services, and Microsoft assets like Bing and AdCenter will incorporate the Nokia Maps solution. The companies will begin shipping Windows Phone-powered Nokia devices in 2012.

With Nokia's migration to Windows Phone, the Symbian operating system moves to franchise platform status--Nokia said it will continue leveraging previous investments and will strive to retain and transition its installed base of 200 million Symbian device owners worldwide. Nokia expects to sell roughly 150 million additional Symbian units in the years ahead. Earlier this month, Nokia stated that its current customer base is responsible for more than 5 million daily downloads from its Ovi Store mobile content marketplace, adding the storefront has grown by nearly eight times over during the last year to over 40,000 apps. Users of the latest Symbian devices--the Nokia N8, Nokia C6-01, Nokia C7 and Nokia E7--account for about 15 percent of each day's Ovi Store downloads.

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