New App Stores Promote Web Application Development

Google™ announced this week its Chrome App Store, which allows people to package and distribute custom web applications in a central location, much like they would sell iPhone™ or Android™ applications. The new store is currently only available to US users, and requires the use of Google’s free Chrome browser.

Apps can be packaged and distributed through the store in one of two ways.

Hosted Apps: These are normal websites with a bit of extra metadata. You can build and deploy hosted apps exactly as you would build and deploy any web app, using whatever server-side or client-side technologies you like. The only difference is that you must provide a small manifest file that describes the app.
Packaged Apps: If you want your app to work well offline or to be tightly integrated with the Google Chrome browser, you can package your app. A packaged app is just a web app that the user downloads. Packaged apps have the option of using the Google Chrome Extension APIs, allowing packaged apps to change the way Chrome behaves or looks.

 

The benefit is that this gives developers the ability to easily promote and distribute web applications, while retaining full freedom to use whatever technologies they like. This also means that current web apps can be easily imported into the store and offered for free, or sold, or include in-app payments. In other words, you have a lot of freedom.

Many websites have already taken advantage of this by quickly importing their existing webapps, including Farmville, NYTimes, NPR, Weather Underground, Gilt, and many others. In addition to applications, the Chrome store also allows custom browser plugins and extensions.

Many other commercial outlets currently have web applications (restaurants, clothing companies, sports teams, online gambling, and many others), which could easily be updated to work through the Chrome app store.

As a web application development company, this also adds extra incentive for new companies to create web apps, as now they have external distribution channels as well.

In a related move, Apple® is also planning to launch an app store in early 2011 (possibly even in the last few weeks of 2010). This will give users the ability to download free and paid apps to their Mac, but these will only be stand-alone apps, more similar to how iPhone app development and distribution works.

Details are still a little bit sparse, but these will allow all types of apps and applications to be sold or distributed through the store. This could include desktop versions of smaller apps, or full-fledged applications like Photoshop.

This will help give small app publishers a win by having a direct and independent distribution channel directly to consumers, even if Apple takes a cut of the profit. Of course, big application publishers also benefit by being able to cheaply sell and distribute new software, though the difference may not be as impactful for them.

About Todd McMurtrey

The marketing team at Amadeus Consulting considers it part of their daily tasks to stay on top of what is going on in the technology marketplace. It is important to our company culture to be technology thought leaders, but we also want to share our knowledge and insights with readers excited about the latest and greatest tech news in the Tech Market Watch blog.

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