Microsoft readies smartphone assault on Apple

From CNET Microsoft is gearing up to take on rival Apple in the smartphone market.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Microsoft is getting ready to launch an online marketplace akin to Apple's App Store. In August, Microsoft had started looking for people to head up the new application store. Microsoft is also readying a more sophisticated version of its mobile operating system called Windows Mobile 6.5, the Journal reported.

Smartphones are sophisticated mobile phones that offer users access to the Web and e-mail, as well as, provide phone calling and all kinds of other messaging options. This category of device is the hottest thing going in the mobile market and is seen as the biggest growth engine for mobile devices over the next few years.

Microsoft, which only makes the operating software for these devices, holds third place in terms of worldwide market share, according to research firm IDC. Symbian, which powers Nokia's smartphones, is by far the leader, followed by Research In Motion with its BlackBerry devices. Even though Apple seems to be the most talked about smartphone on the market these days, it's only in fifth place in terms of overall market share for 2008, IDC said.

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