Google Launches Chrome Web Store

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The search giant introduces Chrome Web Store so 70 million users of its web browser can find create shortcuts to web apps

Google yesterday launched the Chrome Web Store to make it easier for users to browse and download the thousands of free and paid web apps on the market.

The store will enable the roughly 70 million users of the Google Chrome web browser to not only find web apps, but create shortcuts in Chrome to access them easier.

Developers will be able sell their apps through the store, said Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management for Google. Pichai previewed the Web Store at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

“It is very hard for users to find web applications,” Pichai noted, adding that people used to go to retail stores to buy software off the shelves. Thanks to the rise of AJAX in 2004, the times have changed.

The web is littered with, to use Pichai’s example, apps for the game of chess. However, finding centralised reviews and ratings about these chess apps to help decide which one is the best has proved difficult.

To that end, the Chrome Web Store is essentially an app gallery featuring apps for magazines, productivity tools and games, including chess.

Like the iPhone App Store, Android Market and other mobile forebears, the Chrome Web Store will sport ratings, reviews and a payment system by which developers can sell apps for consumers to purchase.

“It should be easy to create and sell a premium application on the web,” Pichai said.

During a demonstration, Pichai showed how web apps were added to the Web Store and appeared as big icons in the Chrome Web Store palette that users can drag and drop.

Pichai played the games “Plants & Zombies,” “Lego Star Wars” and “Dark Room,” with a cost of $4.99 (£3.46). See screenshots on Gizmodo here.

Terry McDonell, managing editor of Sports Illustrated, then triggered the SI’s web application in the Web Store with a single click. Engadget has pics of this app running in Chrome here.

Apps in the store support Adobe’s Flash software and other standard web technologies. The move is part of Google’s efforts to make web apps the rule and not the exception to classic on-premises applications users download to their desktops.

That is the thrust behind not only Chrome, but Chrome operating system (OS), the broader platform on which Chrome will run web apps. Chrome OS is expected to run on netbooks from Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard and other computer makers in the latter half of 2010.

With more and more apps built on the emergent HTML5 markup language coming to the fore, Google wants to make sure it has the mechanisms in place to get more users consuming games, social apps and productivity tools.

The Web Store is one such outlet. Although not yet available, it will be later this year for Chrome on Windows, Mac and Linux and Chrome OS, Pichai said. Google has posted more information about the store, including preliminary documentation, on its blog.

Meanwhile, Pichai noted that Chrome is growing fast. The web browser had 30 million users in June 2009, but has now more than doubled that number to 70 million and a 6.7 percent browser market share with minimal advertising.

However, the search giant has begun advertising Chrome in earnest on popular websites such as the New York Times and, having launched Chrome 5.0 in beta earlier this month.

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