Chrome to Open an App Store

More news from Google’s I|O conference: Google loves Web apps (surprise!) but thinks that they’re too hard to find. There’s no equivalent to the experience of walking into a well-stocked software store back in 1990, or going to Download.com. So it’s launching the Chrome Web Store, a service that lets you find, download, install, and pay for Web-based services.

Conceptually, it’s similar to Apple’s App Store, Google’s own Android Marketplace, and all the other app storefronts that have popped up over the past couple of years. Here are some lousy photos I took of the on-screen demo here:

When Google started its demo, I assumed this was a Web site that would work with any browser. Nope–it’s just for Chrome (which now has 70 million users) and the upcoming Chrome OS, and installs the apps you acquire in their own tabs. The apps can be built using HTML5, Flash, and other technologies, and can work in other browsers as well: We saw demos of TweetDeck, a Lego Star Wars game, Plants vs. Zombies, and a potentially very cool digital incarnation of Sports Illustrated done in HTML5.

The fact that some apps involve the payment of a one-time fee is intriguing–I’m used to Web apps either being free or requiring ongoing service fees–but Google didn’t really address the mechanics of the transaction, such as whether it’ll take a cut of the profits. (I’m assuming that Google Checkout will be the payment processor.)

Google didn’t mention when the Web Store will be fully up and running, but it’s such a no-brainer core component of Chrome OS that it seems a safe bet it’ll be live in time by the time the first Chrome OS netbooks ship, which is supposed to happen by the end of this year.

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