Samsung to open smartphone download store in Europe

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker, said on Monday it would open an online store for smartphone applications on September 14 in Europe.

Handset makers worldwide are following the success of Apple’s App Store, creating their own virtual stores where users can download software and content.

Top cellphone maker Nokia opened the Ovi store globally in May and No. 3 LG Electronics Inc launched its own version of the online marketplace in Asia in July.

Samsung said in a statement its store would be launched in the United Kingdom, France and Italy with more than 30 countries including Germany and Spain to follow.

Samsung’s application store will initially provide more than 300 applications including games and social networking, and the list is expected to exceed 2,000 by the end of 2009.

While Korean phone makers Samsung and LG have grown into leading players on well-priced handsets with strong features, they need to improve software to compete in the fast-growing smartphone category, analysts said.

Reporting by Rhee So-eui, Editing by Jacqueline Wong