The battle of the app stores

Do any of the other mobile application stores stand a chance against the behemoth that is Apple's App Store?

A year ago, smartphone applications were limited to CRM apps on BlackBerry and document editors for Windows Mobile. The Apple App Store has quite simply revolutionised smartphones, but who else has a chance when it comes to third party apps on mobile?

The Apple App Store popped up providing a whole new way of purchasing apps and getting them on your phone. Then other smartphone manufacturers all began jumping on the wagon, starting with App World from BlackBerry and Android Market for Google's smartphone platform.

The rest of the year shows even more promise, with Windows Mobile launching its marketplace with the introduction of Windows Mobile 6.5, while Palm is planning its own Palm Catalog with the launch of the Palm Pre.

So with all these on offer, which store is king of the castle?

Apple App Store

The Apple App Store was the original and is arguably the best place to buy such applications on the net. It holds more apps than any other store. It also has the most regulation and there have been a recent spate of apps declined by the bigwigs at Apple.

Although the gaming section is the most popular here because of the iPhone's supreme gaming abilities, utilities come up a close second, with the store filled to the brim with handy apps to help with your day-to-day working tasks.

Expect to find apps that can remotely monitor your computer's performance in real time such as iStat, third party web browsers including Privately and Full Page Web Browser and virtual keyboards our favourite is Air Mouse Pro.

Business and productivity apps are also second to-none, with word processing, spreadsheet readers and organisation applications all on-board.

The App Store also features the most apps compared to any other store, currently standing at around 50,000.

The interface is easy as pie to use, with the ability to find apps through browsing across the categories or searching. When you tap to download an app, you'll have to sign into your iTunes account and then they'll download to your iPhone, automatically synching to your computer when you plug your phone in using the USB.

Android Market

Unlike the Apple App Store, Android Market is more open source, as Google doesn't prevent conflicting apps from slipping through.

This means that there's a much larger range of applications, even though there are far fewer in number.

For example, Apple blocked Google Voice from the App Store with the excuse that it clashed too much with the functionality of the built-in Voice Memos application pre-installed on the iPhone, yet you can download it on Android Market.

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