The world's number two handset maker launched its Application Store in the U.K. market Monday, and it is stocked with about 300 free and paid apps in categories like games, eBooks, and social networking. While the catalog is dwarfed by the size of Apple's App Store and even Research In Motion's BlackBerry World, Samsung said it expects more than 2,000 programs to be in the Application Store by the end of the year.
Users with the Omnia 2 and Omnia Lite can access the store now after downloading a software update, and the company plans to expand access to more devices and markets. Customers can purchase apps with a credit card, and Samsung said it expects to integrate carrier billing sometime in the future.
"The Application Store will expand the service channel, not only on handheld devices but also on PCs through the launch of new PC software," said Hosoo Lee, executive VP at Samsung, in a statement. "The software will allow customers to download applications and manage them on a PC to maximize service usability."
The move comes as mobile apps are becoming increasingly important in the smartphone world, primarily thanks to the success of the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple customers have downloaded more than 1.8 billion programs in a little more than a year, and it has become a significant driver of hardware sales. This success hasn't gone unnoticed by Apple's rivals, as Google, Nokia, Microsoft, and RIM have all launched similar centralized stores for users to download new mobile programs.
As smartphones become equipped with more desktop-like capabilities, road warriors may soon be able to ditch their laptops. InformationWeek looked at how smartphones could potentially become replacements for laptops, and the report can be downloaded here (registration required).