Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How to Find the Google Chrome App Store: Wait Till December

You probably haven’t heard of it, and you’re very unlikely to be looking for it. But if you are wondering when you might see the Chrome app store Google is working on, here’s the answer: December. Probably.

That’s the word from developers who are building apps for Google’s new store-to-be, which is supposed to work like iTunes, but for Web-based applications instead of ones designed for mobile handsets.

Then again, Chrome app developers I’ve talked to don’t feel confident about any date they’re hearing from Google at this point. That’s because the store, which Google previewed back in May, has missed several launch dates already.

But for now, at least, most developers expect to see a public beta launch on the week of December 6, though a few are holding out hope for a mid-November launch.

Google, for its part, will say only that it promised to have the app store up by the end of the year, and that it’s still on schedule.

Why should you care? If you’re an average consumer, you probably won’t: The app store will work on any Web browser, but it is optimized for Google’s Chrome browser, which has a relatively small market share. But the bigger issue is convincing consumers  to purchase a Web-based app, period.

But the notion of a browser-based store does appeal to some developers, who are interested in melding the performance of mobile phone apps with the connected nature and flexibility of the Web. And some content companies are interested in the idea of selling their stuff in a store that everyone can access, but which isn’t controlled by Apple.

Which is the pitch that Google is making as it reaches out to TV networks and big magazine and newspaper publishers, and tries to persuade them to build for the store. It’s saying, for instance, that it got Time Warner’s Sports Illustrated to demo a version of its magazine when it previewed the app store last spring.

In some cases, I’m told, Google is offering up substantial technical resources to help content makers get apps ready for a launch. And I know that some small developers have received cash, as well–one developer I talked to cashed a $15,000 check–to persuade them to build apps. Should be interesting to see who has built what when the store finally opens.

Here’s that SI demo, with a voiceover from editor Terry McDonell:

And here’s Google’s general introduction to the app store concept:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus