Updated at 4 p.m. PDT with second-quarter smartphone sales figures.
It looks as though Microsoft is joining Apple and Google in the mobile "apps store" market.
It appears the software giant expects to launch an applications store called "Skymarket" this fall for its Windows Mobile platform, if a recent job posting spotted by Long Zheng at Istartedsomething.com is accurate. According to the ad posted Sunday on Computerjob.com, the Skymarket senior product manager will head a team that will "drive the launch of a v1 marketplace service for Windows Mobile."
Among the key responsibilities, according to the ad:
Definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace "the place to be" for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications
Responsibility for the business model and key elements that will drive the optimal experience for developers and monetization of the service by Microsoft
Preparation and driving the cross group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall
Preparation and driving the cross group collaboration with stakeholders in the commercial launch of the marketplace service with the launch of WM 7
Microsoft representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Windows Mobile is a software operating system used on smartphones. Smartphones, which offer e-mail, Web surfing, music, and other Internet services, are growing in popularity. Smartphone sales increased to 19 percent of all mobile-phone sales in the second quarter, a 9 percent increase from the same period a year ago, the NPD Group reported.
Microsoft has been working hard to cash in on the growing demand for smartphones. Earlier this year, Microsoft released version 6.1 of the Windows Mobile operating system. This version includes an updated browser, which is supposed to make Internet surfing on a mobile phone look and feel like it does on a desktop.
Despite predictions for strong growth, Microsoft still faces tough competition, and it may have a hard time increasing its market share as competition intensifies. Along with its new iPhone 3G, Apple opened its App Store to wild success. Apple raked in about $30 million in sales of iPhone applications in the first month the store was open.
Also, new phones using Google's Android operating system are expected to hit the market soon. Google on Thursday announced Android Market, an online center that will let people find, buy, download, and rate applications and other content for mobile phones equipped with the open-source operating system.