The world's second-largest handset maker will first offer its over-the-air content store in the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, and the service is expected to roll out to 30 more countries over the next few months. The Application Store will be accessible through devices such as the Omnia, Omnia HD, and Omnia Pro, and users will be able to pay for programs with credit cards or via carrier billing.
Samsung's store will be accessible from its smartphones that run Windows Mobile or Symbian, and the store is expected to launch with about 300 programs. The company is hoping to have a few thousand apps in the store by the end of the year.
The move comes as access to applications is becoming increasingly important in the mobile world. While these programs have been available for years from vendors such as Handango or MobiHand, the market really took off with the introduction of Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple's mobile store has seen over 1.5 billion downloads in a little more than a year, and it has attracted more than 65,000 programs.
Rivals have noticed the success, and Microsoft, Nokia, RIM, and Google have launched centralized stores for users to download new programs to their handsets. Apple appears to have the early lead in the app space, but there are growing complaints that it is too heavy-handed with its approval process for content in App Store. This could enable rivals to poach away developers from Apple's mobile platform, and companies such as Google routinely tout how their Android Market is much less restrictive than the App Store.
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