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Shop4Apps slips out onto the net

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Motorola's own Android application store has slipped out onto the net. Although it was hastily removed, it proves that the company still has aspirations to play with the big boys.

Shop4Apps was spotted by Android and Me, who managed to grab several screen-shots before Motorola pulled the store from public view. It was enough to show that Motorola will be allowing window-shopping and buying through a web browser, as well as the on-device approach favoured by Google's store.

There's a fair argument for web-based browsing - we don't know what proportion of applications for the iPhone are bought on the move - only Apple knows that - but we'd bet the majority of purchases come through iTunes on a desktop computer.

But running your own application store shows aspirations of service provision: Nokia and Samsung might run their own stores but most manufacturers are happy to leave that kind of work to the network operator. Motorola clearly doesn't want to be bracketed with "most manufacturers".

But replicating the application vetting process and making developers deal with multiple stores is going to dilute the market for all - more money spent testing and listing means less money spent on decent applications. This kind of thing makes Symbian's approach look more sensible - one central warehouse from which multiple stores derive their content.

But the real world seems to cope with multiple retail outlets, so why not in cyberspace? Perhaps Motorola's store will be the kind of upmarket place where farting and wet t-shirts are banned. It's an interesting thought, but it's unlikely as long as such applications continue to top the charts. ®

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