Verizon, Sony Ericsson to launch app stores

US carrier Verizon Wireless and handset vendor Sony Ericsson are the latest to get into the app store business.

Verizon will launch a carrier-branded store for Java ME apps later this year, while Sony Ericsson will add mobile apps to its PlayNow content store.

Verizon is the third carrier to announce plans to open an app store. China Mobile will launch its Mobile Market in September and Vodafone’s will open by year-end.

The support for Java is also a major departure for Verizon, the biggest US CDMA carrier who has long supported Qualcomm's BREW technology.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam made the announcement yesterday at Sun Microsystems' JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

He told Information Week that the carrier is trying to move away from being “overprotective” of its brand and will look to give third-party developers more open access to Verizon customers. Verizon will give developers proprietary information to enable application development.

The app store initially will target smartphones, McAdam said. He did not give details on the billing process, but said the carrier likely will take a slice of revenue from the apps sold in the store.

He said that Verizon would publish specifications for the store in late July, but did not say when the store would be up and running.

Sony Ericsson said  yesterday it would start selling Java ME and Symbian OS apps on PlayNow from July 1.

The store, which is compatible with 38 Sony Ericsson phone models, will offer credit card and operator billing. It will be available in 13 countries and will be expanded to others over the year.

The vendor also said it would provide a one-click access from PlayNow arena to also work with independent mobile apps market place GetJar.

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