Orange opens App Shop, and trials content aggregator

Orange has joined the growing number of operators offering their own application stores with the launch of its App Shop. The service will go live with 2,000 games and applications together with 3,000 screen savers, wallpapers and ringtones--with each costing between €4 and €5.

The App Shop will be accessible from RIM, Android and Windows Mobile handsets (not the iPhone), together with users of Java-based phones which still make up the largest proportion of Orange's portfolio. The company said that downloaded apps could be paid for either via a registered credit card, like it is on the BlackBerry, Android and Microsoft app stores, or charged to a user's monthly Orange bill.

Dominic Lobo, Orange's head of App Shop, said the unique selling point of the service was that all applications would be compatible with different handset operating systems. "We will be working with some developers to have exclusive content made available for our customers, but the main point of difference for us is that the applications are available to any of our customers using a range of different operating systems."

App Shop will initially only be available in France and the UK, but will become more widely deployed across Europe next year. The app store will also be preinstalled on a range of Samsung, LG, HTC and BlackBerry devices some time in 2010.

In addition, the company confirmed that it was trialling a Beta version of a contact aggregator which combines content from social networks, emails and phone books. The ON service allows users to update their mobile's status and, if busy, the incoming caller receives a text message or is diverted to voicemail. Subscribers will also be able to group contacts to enable some calls to go through and others to be diverted.

Orange head of ON, Giles Corbett, said: "We started this project 18 months ago because we wanted to improve the way people communicate." The Beta application can be downloaded on Android devices and will extend to other devices next year.

For more on this story:
Press release

Related stories:
Vodafone taking Apps store fight to Apple, Nokia, RIM
Symbian's App Store promises developers an easy life
Ericsson enters app store debate; calls for 'horizontal' platform
Samsung Launches Application Store in Europe