The world's top handset maker, Nokia Oyj, is on track for a May launch of its Ovi application and content store, company officials said.

Ovi Store is Nokia's push into services and could reach more customers than Apple. The company has said the Ovi store will reach about 50 million customers, while Apple has sold about 20 million iPhones.

With about a billion applications downloaded in less than a year, many point to Apple as having proved the market.

The Nokia executives would not give a specific date for the launch.

But Nokia asked on Wednesday for developers to propose applications for Ovi Maps 3.0, which is in beta testing, the executives said, adding that the maps could now be synched between mobile devices and the Web and embedded on Web sites.

"It's better than trying to push individual applications down the consumer's throat," said Nokia vice president Christof Hellmis, in explanation for why Nokia was building a map platform.