Small app developers to win from Google Chrome Store, lead designer says

Smaller application developers are set to benefit from Google’s upcoming Chrome browser app store, with one of the software’s key designers saying it will help smaller businesses market their apps online.

The comments come as Google is attempting to take on Apple with its growing marketplace for Android apps, along with the announcement of its Google TV software.

Glen Murphy, the Australian-born lead designer for Chrome, who is in Sydney for a Google Australia conference, told SmartCompany smaller businesses will be able to benefit from the upcoming app store by being able to sell their products through an entirely new channel.

“There are a lot of benefits here. There are smaller businesses which develop apps, and these smaller businesses want to build and develop things. They want to do that on the web, and we’re allowing them to do that.”

“Also, Chrome is the strongest, most secure browser for that. It’s safer for businesses wanting to develop on there, and the infrastructure is solid. If businesses want to develop on the platform, they know they can create and sell through the browser and it’s all connected.”

While the Chrome app store isn’t set to open until next year, Google is already touting it as the next big thing in app development. The apps are designed to run within the Chrome browser itself, not as a separate piece of software, and developers can charge whatever they want – just like the Apple App Store.

Marc Edwards, chief executive of development studio Bjango, says the introduction of more app stores will only be a good thing for the market as it continues to grow.

Figures from Juniper Research indicate the market could be worth as much as $25 billion by 2014, with most revenue gained form apps sold within stores.

“Definitely, I think this is a good thing. I think the apps market seems to be moving along nicely now, and there is a lot of value in having a central place to go and get things from a trusted source. That is the benefit of an infrastructure like a store.”

But Edwards also says Google will face some trouble. Some developers are becoming frustrated at the fragmentation within Google’s network, as the Android mobile operating system has so many versions that it’s impossible to develop a single app to cover all the models.

This differs to Apple’s iPhone, which carries a single piece of software on all handsets. Edwards says if they can fix this problem, they will achieve success.

“The danger for them is the fragmentation. Android is quite difficult to build for because the models are different, and it’s splintered. In terms of being a solid platform, it would be good to see less fragmentation.”

But Murphy says they’re on the task. As part of Google’s move into updating the Chrome browser, and expanding the Chrome OS, he says designers are working on ways to help integrate devices.

“In the immediate future, we are focusing on things like integration. People have many different computers, a laptop, desktop, etc, and we are working on things like syncing different devices.”

“If you are on a desktop and want to get an app from the web store, then it needs to show up on all of your Chrome devices. You should be able to just go to any device and get the same thing that you bought from your own computer.”

Murphy also says the Chrome store will need to make it easy for users to find apps. One of the major complaints about the size of Apple’s store is that it has become too large for anyone to find anything useful – Google hopes to avoid that dilemma.

“Part of the problem is that you have apps everywhere and no real indication of quality. With the Chrome store hopefully it will be a more centralised approach, we’ve seen how well ratings work and being able to apply that to our store will be one approach.”

“Discovery is also an issue. A lot of people don’t realise just how many applications there are right now, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who use Google and not many actually know about the amount of apps there are on the web.”

Google already offers a number of “web apps”, such as Google Docs, Google Calendar, and so on. Murphy says these are going to become even more important alongside the Chrome store as businesses look to cut costs by choosing free software.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for developers to create really good looking and powerful apps. But we’re also promoting our existing web apps like documents, because businesses can really get some use out of them.”

“There are businesses now entirely depending on our web apps. When developers are able to make apps for the Chrome store, we might see some interesting software come out of there that businesses start to use as well.”

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