While software applications traditionally lie more in the domain of desktop / laptop computers, App stores have become more popular for mobile platforms. The good news is, App stores aren't limited to the smartphone anymore; Intel's new AppUp store has entered the mix.
You must have come across some handy utility or remarkable tool and exclaimed "Why did I just find out about this!" or "Why doesn't the world know about this!" It happens, often the best, most useful software is hidden away behind layers of links on obscure websites, often it is difficult to even trust such sources. This is one of the difficulties for both users and developers that is mitigated by app stores.
The concept of app stores is quite similar to something Linux user's will already be aware and thankful for, application repositories. Linux distributions
usually include centralized locations from where all your applications can be downloaded. On the other hand Windows users have to do what is the equivalent of going from one factory to another to buy the product each one sells. Usually Linux distributions will include simple tools to centrally manage the installation and uninstallation of applications, such as Ubuntu
Software Center. This allows all application installs, uninstalls, and updates to be managed from one place.
Since Linux is open source, and all applications available in the repositories are either open source or free, they don't have much support for paid apps. In this context you can think of App Stores as Linux-like application repositories which support purchasing apps. For web applications Google announced the Google Chrome store for selling web applications, and Mozilla drafted its concept of a web app store ecosystem. Intel AppUp center is intended to be a store for Netbook devices.
Netbooks are another growing segment of personal computers that are only now beginning to gain attention as a target for application development. While netbooks are considered to be simply underpowered laptops, they do present unique challenges that stem from their limited screen size and processing power, which need to be utilized while ensuring as rich an experience as possible.
Intel AppUp center is designed similar to the current app stores wherein the developer can create applications for the App Store that can either be free or paid. In the latter case the developer gets a certain percentage share of whatever their application makes — in the case of Intel AppUp center, it is the usual 70%.
What the developers have to gain is promotion in a well publicized store run by the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer. If they choose they can use some of their 70% share to buy additional promotion for their applications. It is like going from a door-to-door salesman handing out fliers, putting up posters, to having your product available and featured in a major store.
What the users have to gain is a single interface from where they can access a plethora of applications neatly categorized and well described, with reviews and ratings in which they can participate. They can make all purchases from a single store instead of individually for each software making it easier to track their purchases. Additionally, users can be sure that the applications do not contain any malware, as they have been through a review process, and by tapping into the power of community ratings and reviews they can have a fair idea of what they can expect from the application before they invest in it, or even download it for free. Intel AppUp center also lets consumers cancel a purchase within 24 hours, hence making sure consumers have a chance to try the app before they buy it.
The Intel AppUp developer program however goes beyond just helping developers sell their applications. The program also has a component marketplace where developers can sell and buy application libraries / components. Often application libraries and components themselves require quite a lot of effort to develop and maintain. So the Intel AppUp developer program includes a mechanism with which a developer can sell components in addition to entire applications. Just like applications, libraries and components can be freeware as well. If the developer seeks some compensation for a library/ component they have developed, they can enter into a revenue sharing with the app developer who wants to use their component. So the amount of money your component makes directly corresponds to the popularity of the applications which use it. For obvious reasons, components which aren't free can’t be used in free application — with no revenue there is none to share.
The Intel AppUp center will currently support applications developed to run on Windows or Moblin Linux — which is Intel's own Linux distribution developed for netbook computers. As part of an effort between Nokia and Intel, their two Linux branches, Moblin and Maemo —used on Nokia's N900 internet tablet / phone— have merged to form MeeGo, and that platform too is supported by Intel's SDK for Linux. The Intel AppUp developer program supports both native development, and development of applications which use a runtime. Currently the AppUp developer program includes an SDK for native development using C/C++ on Windows, or using .NET, a beta SDK is available for the Moblin Linux platform as well in both rpm, and deb package formats.
Intel AppUp developer program also supports runtime technologies such as Adobe AIR, Microsoft Silverlight and Java. While Java and Silverlight are currently only on the roadmap, the Adobe AIR SDK is available right now for both AIR 1.5.3 using Flex 3.5.1 and AIR 2.0 using Flex 4.1. These platform and runtimes are not final, as Intel will keep its eye open for future developments in the field, and may include other programming languages and runtimes.
Interested in developing apps for the Intel AppUp center? Register at the Intel AppUp developer program, and participate in the Digit Application Developer Contest to win exciting prizes such as Netbooks, MP3 Players, 8GB Pen Drives, and a lot more. Also, once you register to the program, you can submit your apps and get a chance to own a custom-ordered BMW - plus a trip to Germany to pick it up.
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