Lenovo Group has made an initial 100 million yuan (HK$116.8 million) investment in a fund that provides seed money to mainland software developers who build programs for the company's Chinese online mobile applications store, LeGarden. This was Lenovo's second mobile applications initiative this week, following an alliance with South Korea's largest mobile network operator, SK Telecom, to bring its T Store to the mainland. It also widens the playing field for local software developers who could potentially cater to dozens of applications stores on the mainland, including other makers of mobile internet devices and the country's three big telecommunications carriers. The Lenovo financing venture called LeFund, which is run by a professional investment team under its parent firm, Legend Holdings, has picked e-reader application developer Guangzhou Hua Yue Digital Technology as its first beneficiary. 'The key to our strategy is the perfect integration of a rich variety of applications, hardware and system software to help users enjoy the mobile internet experience anytime anywhere,' Lenovo chief executive Yang Yuanqing said yesterday at the company's first Mobile Internet Developers Conference in Beijing. LeGarden, which was launched in May, currently has more than 1,000 applications that support users of LePhone, the company's first 3G smartphone. The online store will also offer applications to support users of the 'LePad' media tablet, which Lenovo plans to launch on the mainland and the United States early next year to compete against the likes of Apple's iPad, the Galaxy Tab from Samsung Electronics and Dell's Streak. Apple last month launched a simplified Chinese version of its online App Store, which features localised software applications among more than 300,000 free and paid programs for its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. Research firm Gartner has forecast Apple's trailblazing App Store, which was launched in July 2008, to continue leading the industry over the next few years. By 2013, the world's total mobile application revenue could reach US$29.5 billion annually.