Mobile Lowdown: Opera’s apps; Android In Europe; Sony Ericsson

Our rundown of mobile news to start your day. Today: Opera launches its own app store; Android’s European march; Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson’s alleged Windows Phone.

Opera: The mobile browser company is launching its own app store — on the mobile web, of course. The Opera Mobile Store — which is built on a white-label product from Appia (formerly known as PocketGear) — will feature 140,000 free and paid apps, and it will be available for all smartphone platforms except Apple’s iOS, through a fast-track link on the browser’s home page. Opera is also launching a portal for developers to publish further apps.

Android in Europe: The mobile market in Western Europe didn’t grow massively overall in Q4 2010: it only went up by 3.2 percent, to 58.7 million units, according to figures form IDC. But smartphones are on a different trajectory: shipments of smartphones were up by 99.4 percent, to 25.6 million units, and they represented 44 percent of all shipments. Within that, Android was the real star: sales of Android devices were up 1,580 percent to 7.9 million units compared to 470,000 units in the same quarter a year ago. That gives it a 31 percent market share, and makes the Android platform the market leader for the quarter, say the analysts. A run-down of how handset makers compared in smartphones:

Top Western European Mobile Phone Vendors, Shipments and Market Share, 4Q10, Smartphones (Units in Millions)

Sony Ericsson: Is Sony Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) getting on the Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Windows Phone bandwagon? Pictures of a Sony Ericsson device that appears to be running Windows Phone 7 were posted by the blog Lizhecome/Microsoft Tech the other day (one pictured below), but there are plenty of people skeptical of whether this is really a new device, or a discarded experiment. Sony Ericsson was originally named as a Windows Phone partner but has yet to launch any devices on Microsoft’s OS.