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Samsung debuts iTunes rival for mobile videos

Company launches iTunes rival in Europe, allowing customers to buy or rent movies and television programs and download them to their mobile phones.

Samsung has launched a virtual store where customers in Europe can buy or rent movies and TV programs and download them to their mobile phones.

In its initial rollout phase, the Samsung Movies service will offer more than 500 films from studios such as Warner Bros., Paramount, and Universal. The service launched initially in Britain and Germany, but Samsung intends to open it up to other European markets later in the year. By the end of the first quarter, the company said it planned to double the number of titles it will offer to 1,000, and again to 2,000 movies and TV shows by the end of June.

Prices start at 2.49 pounds ($3.55) for a 24-hour rental, or 4.99 pounds (about $7) to buy a movie. However, newer films such as "The Dark Knight" cost 16.99 ($24) to buy, according to the beta site for the service.

In making its entry into this market, Samsung hopes to pull even with competitive mobile offerings from Apple and Nokia.

The service will be compatible only with video-enabled Samsung phones, such as its new Tocco Ultra Edition. But Samsung plans to expand the service to notebooks, MP3 and MP4 portable music players, and Samsung TVs.

Samsung Movies will use technology from privately owned digital movie retailer Acetrax, which holds agreements with film studios and music labels.