Vodafone is joining the increasingly busy application store game by launching its own venture in a number of European markets later this year.

The mobile operator will take a 30 per cent share of all app revenue – mirroring Apple’s App Store.

Interestingly for developers, Vodafone is to supply a program that allows software to run on any Vodafone device.

Previously, developers had to configure their apps to each handset – a lengthy process and one that restricted uptake.

The new program will simplify that and give apps access to the operator’s 289 million customer base.

Vodafone is to handle the billing for the apps that will be charged directly to a customer’s telephone bill.

This could be a major advantage for the operator. Earlier this month, Nokia announced that it would have to drop operator billing from its US Ovi Store – a set-back for the venture.

Vodafone will also provide developers and partners with access to "network capabilities," including location awareness.

This will allow them to create apps that take into account a user’s current position.

What is certain is that consumers will soon be spoilt for choice – although there may also be confusion over where to go first for apps.

Vodafone has, however, said that a user with a Nokia phones on its network can chose which app store they want to use.

The success of the venture will also hinge on the quality of the apps – and that will be influenced by whether developers feel drawn to Vodafone – and are willing to hand over a 30 per cent share of their revenues.

The first apps are to roll out at the end of the year in the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Greece, Portugal and Ireland with more territories added later.

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