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Opera opens phone-agnostic mobile app store

Android. Java. Windows. Palm. Symbian. (And, one day, iPhone)

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Opera has opened an app store that works across disparate mobile platforms. The store can be accessed from virtually any mobile browser on any major phone platform, but it's built straight into the company's Opera Mobile and Opera Mini browsers, currently used by over 100 million phone owners across the globe.

The store serves up apps for Android, BlackBerry, Palm, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. No, it doesn't offer iPhone apps, but Opera plans to integrate with Apple's App Store in the future.

Opera executive vice president Mahi de Silva, former CEO of AdMarvel, the mobile ad outfit Opera purchased last year, tells The Register that the Opera Mobile Store has been tested on citizen phones for at least a month now, and the company plans to officially unveil it on Tuesday.

de Silva tells us that although Apple prevents third-parties from selling iOS apps on their own, the Opera Mobile Store will eventually provide links back to the Apple App Store. You'll be able to browse iPhone apps from Opera's store, he says, before jumping to Apple's store to purchase them.

The idea is to provide an "open" app store that is not limited to a single platform, à la the Apple App Store or Google's Android Market. "We're leveraging the history of Opera," de Silva says. "In the past, we've focused on developing the best and most widely used browser, and we're now expanding into services. We're creating a service for users, but we're also creating a device-agnostic app store for developers – so they can not only reach the 100 million who use Opera's mobile browser, but people who use any browser."

On Opera Mobile and Opera Mini, the store will show up as a "Speed Dial" link. The link is present on all new versions of the browser, and if you've previously installed Mobile or Mini, Opera will automatically update your browser to include the link – if you haven't already populated all available Speed Dial spots.

When you access the service, the storefront is tailored to your particular phone, serving up a catalog of apps specific to your mobile OS, local language, and currency. Offering both free and paid applications, the store was built in tandem with Appia, an outfit that drives mobile app stores for more than 40 other outfits.

On Tuesday, Opera will also launch its Opera Publisher Portal, which lets developers, yes, publish their apps to the Opera Mobile Store. In February, the company says, prior to its official launch, the store attracted more than 15 million users in 200 countries, and downloads reached 700,000 per day. ®

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