Apple has managed to turn its iTunes App Store into the envy of its rivals, prompting a variety of imitations, including Google's Android Market and the enterprise-oriented Google Apps Marketplace.
But the Chrome Web Store differs from the iTunes App Store in that it's not selling software that gets downloaded and installed in most cases. Rather, it's selling some app-related metadata -- a
.crx file containing configuration data -- and a URL, a string that tells the buyer's browser where to look to find the purchased app. It’s selling the home address of Web apps, a pointer to where the apps can be found.
For this, Google will take a cut of 30%. At least that's the revenue split that Google executives on Wednesday suggested was likely. Free Web apps will also be offered.
"An installable Web app is a normal Web site with a bit of extra metadata," Google explains in its developer documentation. "You build and deploy this app exactly as you would build and deploy any Web app, using any server-side or client-side technologies you like. The only thing that is different about an installable Web app is how the app is packaged."
Google will actually be adding some value in the process. Beyond the ability of the company's brand to engender trust in potential Web app users, Google will generate browser shortcuts that make Web apps more visible.