Vodafone prepares 360 Shop app store for Android

The application store will give Vodafone customers an alternative to the Android Market, with payments going through the operator rather than through Google

Vodafone is to pre-install its 360 Shop application store on upcoming Android smartphones, including the HTC Wildfire and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro, the operator announced on Tuesday.

Vodafone 360 is the carrier's application and contact aggregation platform, which lets developers write and sell applications for use across different mobile operating systems. The operator already supports Vodafone 360 on certain Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets, although the full 360 functionality is only available on the Samsung H1 and M1 LiMo phones.

The 360 Shop for Android, which will be deployed this summer, will carry both Java Intermediate Language (JIL) and native Android apps. The marketplace will also provide an alternative to the Android Market, employing a separate billing mechanism — payments for apps will be made through Vodafone, rather than Google.

"Developers want to know that their app will be seen by consumers, and the 360 Shop on Android has been designed to maximise opportunities for content promotion," Vodafone content services chief Lee Epting said in a statement. "Initial data is showing that up to a third of the catalogue gets exposed in a single day. This is a market-leading approach which will allow both customers and developers to get great value out of the 360 Shop."

The 360 Shop on Android will have promotional areas including best rated, top downloads, categories and filtered lists, with promotions run by "local market editorial experts", Vodafone said in the statement.

According to Vodafone, more than 8,500 apps have been published to the 360 Shop so far. More than 65,000 apps are available in the Android Market, according to the latest statistics from AndroLib.