Netbooks finally get their own app store – no more Apple and Android envy

Netbooks finally get their own app store - no more Apple and Android envy


 

Intel has launched an app store with free and commercial applications tailored for netbooks. Although there’s very few apps in the AppUp Center at this early stage it gives netbook owners the same kind of centralised software catalogue that’s behind Apple’s App Store or Android’s Market. And just like its competitors the AppUp Center makes software downloading and installation a cinch – just hit the Get” or “Buy” buttons and the app is automatically downloaded and installed on your machine. 

It’s the first time users of x86 -based computers have had anything like this. It’s finally dawning on PC vendors that one reason Apple is selling so many iPhones and iPads is the centralised and quality-controlled software supermarket it provides with its devices. By contrast the PC world has that great unregulated market called the Internet reached through search engines and which offers thousands of programs many of unknown quality provenance and security and with infinitely variable payment options.

Although Intel’s AppUp client runs with every version of Windows from XP to Windows 7 64-bit and on any type of PC or notebook the apps in the AppUp store are geared for netbooks. They are designed to work best with the Atom processors that power the bulk of netbooks within the default 10in netbook resolution of 1024×600.

THE APPLICATIONS

It’s early days so there’s not many apps. We counted around 150 (vs 270000 in the Apple app store!) ranging in price from free to nearly US$200. Most are board and puzzle games but no doubt the business education home and other more serious categories will keep on growing. So far there’s 13 categories of apps with “Staff Picks” “What’s Hot” and “New releases” highlighting the more interesting ones. The AppUp store lets you download and install purchased apps on up to four different computers.

Our own picks would include:

  • Corel Write – word processor. $19.99
  • Gutenbuch lite – turns your netbook into an ebook reader. $1.99
  • Easy Flyer Creator – create fliers. $39.99
  • Mezzmo – a DLNA media server. $29.99
  • fizy desktop – finds and plays music. Free

 Ok you get what we mean when we say the choice is limited right now.

DOWNLOADING AN APP

Downloading an app from the AppUP Center is straightfoward.  In the example below we’re downloading an app called the “Visual Eating and
Exercise Program.” We’ve clicked on the Health category in the AppUp desktop client to see two health programs listed in it.

The app listing provides a description of the app plus details about the developer (below).

And reader comments. It’s good to see that they are not sanitized (below).

Despite the comments we’ll download it anyway! We click the “Get” button and the app downloads and automatically starts the install process (below). The application appears in the Windows start menu and leaves an icon on the desktop. You can start the application like a standard desktop app or from within the client.

After dowloading we can check what other apps we have downloaded (below).

What we really liked was that once you have bought an app and change your mind you can cancel the purchase (below).

DEVELOPING FOR THE APPUP CENTER

Ultimately the success of the AppUP Center will be determined by whether Intel can convince enough developers to develop apps for it. The store is backed by a developer program that encourages
developers to create software for Intel Atom-based devices. Known as the
AppUp program it
provides software development support application validation and
of course the distribution channel for applications and application
components. To join a developer can download the Intel AppUp developer
program SDK
. Being early days in the program a registration
fee is currently being waived.

According to Intel developers are able to set the price for their applications and receive up to 70% of the revenue from every app sold in the store. They can also swap some of the revenue for in-store promotion should they decide to heavily market their apps.  And there’s further revenue to be had from selling application components to other developers from which the original developer takes a % share of the revenue.

Developers are free to develop most kinds of apps but like the Apple store (and unlike Android Market) adult-themed software is not allowed. After developing an app the developer must submit it for “validation” the equivalent of the Apple App store approval process.

Intel has an interesting approach to ensuring quality of applications developed through the program. Participating developers must build up a”reputation” by earning reputation points which also advance them in Intel’s so-called “Black Belt Software Developer Program”  where the aim is to get a black belt.

More info on developing for the AppUp store is available from the  AppUp developer FAQ.

And if this story has whetted your appetite for a netbook (or notebook) check out APC’s Notebook Hunter service.