Optus opens mobile application store

Telecommunications giant Optus has followed in Apple’s footsteps, opening an application store for its mobile customers.

The move comes after Telstra said earlier this year the company is currently working on a mobile application store that would allow customers to download applications over broadband networks.

The Optus mobile store, which features applications in a variety of genres including lifestyle, productivity, finance and games, is now available for users on 2G or 3G enabled handsets using Symbian, Android, BlackBerry, Windows and Java operating systems.

“The Optus Application Store gives our customers an easy to navigate ‘one stop shop’ to purchase a full suite of applications via Optus Zoo,” Mark Mulder, general manager of Optus content said in a statement.

“Optus is the first Australian operator to give customers access to an Application Store with a range of categories, across a multitude of genres. It allows every customer with a data enabled handset to pick and choose an app that suits them, and with one click, the freedom to be charged automatically via their mobile bill.”

Optus has joined a number of other tech giants, including Apple, Research in Motion, Nokia and Microsoft, in opening application stores. Their popularity has continued to grow as handsets become more powerful, allowing developers to create applications that emulate activities traditionally seen only on desktop or laptop computers.

Apple is still the leader in the industry, with over 100,000 applications and billions of downloads, but Mulder said the Optus store will have over 1,000 applications available at launch.

The move comes after Telstra executive director of product management Ross Fielding said earlier this year the telco will be working towards an app store of its own.

“Our strategy is always to make sure that we invest in our Big Pond asset. You’ll start to see some pretty clever stuff happening in devices. I don’t know if we’ll call it the Telstra apps store, but it’ll be one-click, pretty simple to use,” he told The Australian.

Optus customers will be charged a purchase fee for any application downloaded. The store can be accessed via the “Optus Zoo” feature already available on Optus handsets.

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