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7/30/2010
02:21 PM
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Web Apps For Sale Without Censorship

OpenAppMkt.com offers a place to distribute and sell Web apps without an Apple-style approval process.

Offering further proof that search just doesn't cut it for mobile app discovery, a new Web site aims to provide a central storefront for free and paid Web apps.

OpenAppMkt.com describes itself as, "A marketplace where you can easily discover and install mobile apps on the Web," a statement that underscores the growing problem of app discoverability, both for Web apps and native apps.

The Web store aims to do for Web apps what Apple's iTunes App Store has done for iOS apps.

Whether it will simplify the app discovery process remains to be seen. But there is a need for app aggregation sites.

With over 200,000 apps in the iTunes App Store, developers of iOS apps can struggle to be noticed in the absence of a substantial marketing campaign.

As Web app development becomes more common, Web apps are likely to face similar challenges being noticed.

That's a bet Google is making with its forthcoming Chrome Web Store, which aims to serve as a central repository for Web apps.

Teck Chia, one of the three entrepreneurs who developed OpenAppMkt, says that the site is not merely about discovery. It's about helping developers monetize their Web apps as well.

Toward that end, it will allow developers to sell access to their Web apps, even though Web apps are freely accessible due to the nature of HTML code.

While it might seem unwise for a developer to surrender a portion of potential sales to an aggregator, having a central payment processor could end up being more cost-effective in terms of processing fees for small payments.

"In a nutshell, we wanted to enable an alternative platform for mobile developers, and offer more choices to consumers beyond what the native stores offer," said Chia in an e-mail.

Chia doesn't anticipate competition from Google because the Chrome Web Store appears to be oriented toward desktop Web apps. "We are focused on the end-to-end experience of discovering, sharing and installing/purchasing of mobile Web apps," he said.

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