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Google Gears Up Chrome Web Store for App Fans

By Katherine Noyes
May 21, 2010 5:00 AM PT

Google on Wednesday announced plans to open an app store for its Chrome browser to make it easier both for users to discover Web applications and for developers to reach a large potential audience.

Google Gears Up Chrome Web Store for App Fans

Chrome users who find apps in the Chrome Web Store will be able to create shortcuts in Chrome for easy access, Google said. Developers, meanwhile, will have the option of easily selling their apps through the store using a convenient and secure payment system.

Google introduced the Chrome Web Store at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. The store will be available later this year, it said, though it gave no specifics.

Details Coming Soon

Some preliminary documentation for the Chrome Web Store is available online, as is an introductory YouTube video.

Google officials declined to provide further information about the store's launch date, pricing scheme or the apps that will be available.

"We haven't shared exact details of when the store will launch; it will launch sometime this year," Google spokesperson Gina Weakley told LinuxInsider. "In addition, we haven't shared any details about apps that have signed on or our plans for pricing. Stay tuned for more later this year."

The company does plan to announce more details about the Chrome Web Store soon, Erik Kay, a lead software engineer, wrote Wednesday on The Chromium Blog.

'The Problem Is That It's Chrome-Specific'

"The Chrome Web Store is an interesting attempt by Google to bring some of the benefits of marketplaces to the SaaS applications," Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with RedMonk, told LinuxInsider.

"From a user perspective, it should improve discovery and application selection, and from a developer perspective it may incent development by making commerce more frictionless," O'Grady noted.

However, "the problem at present is that it's Chrome-specific," he added. "While Google is reportedly 'in talks' with other browser vendors, a Chrome-specific marketplace is far less compelling than one supported by, say, Firefox as well."

Benefits for Chrome Users

The web apps listed in the Chrome Web Store will be regular Web applications, built with standard Web tools, the store's FAQ notes. As such, "they can be used by anyone using a modern browser that supports these web technologies."

Users accessing the Chrome Web Store through Google Chrome, however, will have the ability to create shortcuts for easily accessing their apps.

Installed Web apps can also request advanced HTML5 permissions, Google said.

Google's Chrome accounted for 6.73 percent of the worldwide browser market in April, putting it in third place, according to data from market researcher Net Applications. Microsoft's Internet Explorer is in first place, with 59.95 percent; Firefox is second, with 24.59 percent; Safari is fourth, with 4.72 percent; and Opera is next, with 2.3 percent.

Chrome vs. Android

"Obviously, Google -- like many others -- would like to generate the same kind of success with a software store as Apple has with iTunes," Jay Lyman, analyst for open source with the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider.

Apple's App Store lets users of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad browse and download applications from the iTunes Store. Google also maintains the recently revamped Android Market with applications for that mobile platform.

"Google may actually be trying to get in front of application store trends by providing a Web app store, rather than just a mobile application store," Lyman suggested.

Either way, the company also "needs to more clearly differentiate Chrome from Android," Lyman added. "By fostering and providing applications for both Chrome developers and users, it should be better-equipped to do so."


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