Got Apps? Appia Raises $10 Million for Even More App Stores

Appia, formerly known as PocketGear, has raised $10 million in venture capital from Venrock.

With the close of the round, the Durham, N.C.-based company now has investments from each of the major wireless OS-makers — well, sort of.

Here’s how it could argue the case: Venrock is venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family, which was one of the early investors in Apple. Appia’s other investors include Tomorrow Ventures, the investment arm of Google’s outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt, and BlackBerry Partners Fund is associated with Research In Motion.

To date, the company has raised $28.5 million.

The company is aspiring to build the largest independent marketplace of applications and to become a white-label solution for third parties, such as recent customers, like Opera Software and Mexico’s largest operator Telcel.

Appia said it will use the new capital to fund product development and the launch of additional app stores around the world.

In June 2008, PocketGear was spun off from Bellevue-based Motricity, which at the time was also based in North Carolina. It raised $3.2 million from Noro-Moseley Partners and Wakefield Group, which were the original backers of Motricity, and then later acquired long-standing app publisher, Handango.

Competitors include native app stores, such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. But it also competes against independent stores, like GetJar and Amazon’s AppStore, which launched last week.

Of course, all of these players are trying to piggy back on the rise of the smartphone.

A research report by Frost & Sullivan predicts that total downloads from smartphone app stores are expected to increase from 9.6 billion in 2010 to more than 120 billion by 2015 around the world.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work