China Mobile to launch English version of app store

Updated: 2011-11-16 21:18

By Shen Jingting (

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HONG KONG - China Mobile Ltd, the world's largest telecom carrier measured by the number of subscribers, said it will launch an English version of its application store next year - a strategic step to win global users and application developers, which also poses a direct challenge to Apple Inc's App Store.

China Mobile's Mobile Market (MM) is the world's first mobile phone application store set up by a telecom operator. Since it was launched in August 2009, the number of applications has grown to more than 95,000, a far cry from a relatively meager 1,218 two years ago.

It is also the largest Chinese application store in the world. The total number of application downloads reached 590 million by the end of October, China Mobile said in a statement on Wednesday.

The store attracted about 138 million registered users and 2.85 million application developers in the same period.

China Mobile will open its MM to all domestic mobile phone users in 2012, the company said, having previously excluded customers from another two smaller Chinese operators - China Unicom and China Telecom. Meanwhile, the English version of MM is about to go online and be available for global mobile phone users next year.

Though it has witnessed a rapid growth, MM still lags behind some major international application stores such as Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market. For example, App Store provides access to more than 500,000 applications with total downloads of more than 18 billion.

Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, has set the bar high for Mobile Market. In an interview with Economy & Nation Weekly, Wang said Mobile Market must look to become a leading application store in terms of software downloads.

Last year, China Mobile encouraged 50 million students at 3,000 universities across the country to develop the software for its applications shop and offered a handsome reward into the bargain.