Many people have asked the same question since its announcement at the Google I/O Conference this year – what is the Chrome Web Store? Although Google has made an effort to explain, some people, such as CNET’s Natalie Del Conte, are still confused about the Web Store’s intended functionality and purpose. As it has yet to be opened to the public, we only know so much. For now, we’ll have to take Google’s word.
According to Google, the Web Store will solve the problem of having too many programs open: too many places to go to retrieve the games, sites, and utilities you need or want at any given time.
The main points include:
- Web Store apps will be browser-based – they’ll run through the Chrome browser on whatever system you’re using
- The first batch of apps will be free, and will include the company’s own staples like Docs, Calendar, News, Maps, and Picasa
- Other apps will include Pandora, Plants vs. Zombies, Tweetdeck, NPR, LinkedIn, and magazine-like content from Sports Illustrated
- Developers can learn about the Web Store and develop their apps for it now. However, developers who upload their work to the store can only see their own apps, not those uploaded by others
After Google’s initial announcement at the I/O conference, Engaget even compared the impressive visuals to Apple’s apps, stating that the Chrome app experience "exceed[s] most anything we've seen on the iPad thus far."
But what does this mean?
Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Marketplace are clearly the inspiration for this online application market. However, the Chrome Web Store will provide browser-based software supported across platforms. “Browser-based” is the key point. The implication: browser-based programs could supersede native apps due to their ability to work on any platform. While Apple devotees will likely be reluctant to use anything else, those looking for an integrated and easily navigated PC experience will, in theory, find that in Chrome.
Perhaps this is partly wishful thinking, but I do believe the Web Store will be capable of dominating the other two prominent app stores – both the Android Market and Apple’s App Store host proprietary, native apps. A browser that facilitates the app experience enables limitless options. In addition, developers for the Web Store will be charged minimal fees compared to what Apple charges, and are allowed to use various transaction programs (not just Google Checkout).
Further implications include the potential for porting apps from the Android Marketplace to Chrome on PCs. Also likely is Google's ability to dominate the browser battles with the added functions of its Chrome Web Store.
As with everything, there’s another side to this story. Some people are still confused about the benefit of Google’s Chrome endeavor, questioning whether the apps for web sites in particular will truly provide an experience different from that of going directly to the site in a browser.
From what I’ve seen, it looks like it both A) enhances your web experience, and B) simplifies your PC experience as a whole. It pulls the things you love into one easily accessible location (think a vastly upgraded iGoogle + Google Reader), while also enabling you to access desktop programs like Tweetdeck in the same place as you access your magazines. This concept will no doubt appeal to the many people who rarely have fewer than eight applications open on their computers, myself included.
Through the Chrome Web Store, Google seems to admit that while its search function is unmatched, its ability to deliver quality apps to those searching for them falls short. The Web Store seems to compensate with its proposed searchable database specific to apps and its app ranking system, while significantly expanding our understanding of how a browser can – and will – be used in the near future.