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Verizon Launching App Store For VoIP Hub

Verizon Wireless is looking to bring mobile applications to customers' homes, as it's planning to launch an over-the-air store for its VoIP Hub.

The company released the Hub in January and it can make voice-over-IP calls with the customer's broadband connection. The device can also send picture and video messages, as well as send unlimited SMS messages to Verizon's cellular subscribers.

The Hub has a large touch screen that's filled with icons that can let the customer check the weather or stocks with the click of a button. The company is looking to expand the functionality of this home screen, and it will open it up for developers later this year to create new programs like Internet streaming radio.

The move shows the growing importance of mobile apps in the telecommunications space. Apple really brought mobile apps to the forefront with its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and it will soon have more than a billion downloads in less than a year. This success has not gone unnoticed by Apple's competitors, and soon every major platform will have an over-the-air app store.

It's unclear if an app store is enough to boost the adoption rate of the Hub, as it's attempting to use the VoIP device to help it regain market share in the dwindling home phone market. The Hub has a $34.99 monthly service fee, but it cannot send messages to non-Verizon cell phones. The company said it's looking to do away with this restriction in order to make the device more appealing.

"We're in the process of getting rid of that restriction," John Gravel, a Verizon product manager, said in an interview withReuters. "Why would you limit anyone from using this?"

Verizon isn't the only mobile carrier making a move for the home phone market, as T-Mobile recently rolled out a landline-replacement service. T-Mobile's @Home is a hybrid service of cellular and VoIP, and it's priced at $10 a month, in addition to a monthly cell phone fee.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the use of business software on smartphones. Download the report here (registration required).