Philippines telecom operator Globe has hooked up with its Singaporean counterpart SingTel to bring a new apps store to its subscribers free of charge, as a report from ABS-CBN reveals.

The duo are launching MyAppsMall, which will carry more than 20,000 items that includes games, social networking, sports and other apps. The store will be exclusively free for Globe customers, but users of other networks will need to pay for some of the content listed there.

Smartphone penetration is still growing across Southeast Asia — where it shows great promise — and, as such, MyAppsMall supports a range of mobile device platforms, including Android, Symbian, Java and BlackBerry.

With operating billing enabled, customers will be able to buy apps with the simple click of a button. The charges will be made alongside their monthly postpaid bill or taken out of their existing prepaid credit for those on pay-as-you tariffs. Customers that prefer to use credit cards will be able to.

The operators are hoping that the store and its wide access will encourage local developers to create and distribute their apps through the platform. Developers will doubtless be attracted all the more as SingTel is also looking to broaden the store’s access and could launch it through affiliate operators in other countries in the region.

Glenn Estrella, who heads up Globe’s digital media business, called the store “a very exciting” development, and he claims that it will help boost local developer talent:

[We] are helping expose Filipino talent and creativity to the global market by tapping local developers and allowing them to sell their apps and services.

Earlier this week, a report revealed that the US mobile application industry is responsible for almost 500,000 jobs in the country. While Apple has stimulated and continues to lead the industry in North America, Southeast’s Asia mobile market remains dominated by ‘dumb-‘ and feature- phones. Smartphones are a small but growing niche, but they account for just 19 percent of devices across the region, on average.

App stores like Globe-SingTel’s are an interesting alternative, but it remains to be seen just how popular apps are outside of Apple and Android smartphone users, who already have official channels that they can visit to download apps.