12:56 PM

Samsung To Launch App Store

The competitor to Apple's App Store will debut 1,100 programs for Samsung's Symbian and Windows Mobile handsets.

Samsung said it will launch a mobile applications store for Symbian and Windows Mobile devices during this month's Mobile World Congress.

Originally announced late last year, the online storefront will offer developers a streamlined portal to reach millions of Samsung handsets. Similar to Apple's App Store, Samsung's store will provide an over-the-air way for mobile users to browse, purchase, download, and install applications.

Samsung has been nurturing its developer community with its Mobile Innovator Web site, which offers tools, technical content, and support. Content creators will be able to deliver freeware and commercial content through the store, but it's unclear how the payments will be handled and what percentage of sales Samsung will keep.

The online storefront will initially have about 1,100 applications and be available for the U.K. market only, but the cell phone manufacturer is expected to expand it to other markets shortly.

"For Samsung Mobile Innovator members this represents a fantastic opportunity for them to get their applications to a large Samsung-user audience very quickly," said Phil Northam, global marketing manager at Samsung Mobile Innovator, in a statement.

Mobile applications have been around for years in places like Handango, but they have moved to the forefront with the success of Apple's App Store for the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch. In a little more than six months, the store has seen more than half a billion downloads, and the catalog has grown to more than 15,000 apps.

The success has caught the attention of all the major players in the mobile space, and many will be taking a similar approach to distributing mobile apps. Google's Android already has its Android Market preinstalled on its handsets, Research In Motion will launch its Application Storefront in a few months, and Microsoft is widely expected to introduce its own app store offering.

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