Nokia is following in the footsteps of Apple and Google and opening an app store that will offer downloads for users of handsets running the Symbian S40 and S60 platforms.

The Ovi Store will open in May, and was described by George Linardos, vice president of product management for media at Nokia, as "a service that feeds you a constantly refreshing feed of content, personalised to you".

Users can opt for a social-networking component of the application store that shows them items that people in their contacts list have recently bought. Friends don't "have to go through this old-school process of hitting share and entering an email address", Linardos said.

Instead, items such as games or videos appear at the top of the store, telling the user which friends have recently downloaded the content.

"You're not just browsing for things to buy, but you're being fed content you want," he said. "No two people in theory are ever really seeing the same content."

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

The store will also automatically feature applications based on location. For example, if a user flies to London, when the user gets off the plane the application store will highlight content that might be useful and relevant, such as London restaurant guides or Lonely Planet city guides.

Those personalisation features are aimed at solving a problem that some of the application stores, like Apple's iPhone App Store, are facing now that they have tens of thousands of applications. With such a high volume of products to choose from, users struggle to find interesting and quality applications. Users of the Ovi Store won't have to use the social-networking component and can also browse by category.

Apple iPhone 3G review

Apple iTunes App Store

The store has another unique feature: it will only display applications that work on the user's phone. That's key because Nokia phones come in a wide range of form factors, and some applications may not render well on all devices.

The N97 will be the first phone to come preloaded with the software for the store, and thereafter all S60 and most S40 Nokia phones will have it. By 2012, Nokia expects that the store will reach 300 million users.

NEXT PAGE: Facebook and MySpace to develop apps