Apps Outside the App Store: 5 Developments to Watch
There’s no doubt that the iTunes App Store is the market leader when it comes to being the best place for developers to earn money from their mobile applications. In fact, according to a recent study from IHS Screen Digest, Apple was found to have generated 82.7% of the total global application store revenue in 2010, increasing its revenue from $768.7 million in 2009 to $1.8 billion in 2010.
But that doesn’t mean companies with alternative ideas about app distribution have thrown in the towel just yet. Over the past couple of weeks, a number of new programs have crossed our desk here at ReadWriteMobile. Five noteworthy (or at least interesting) developments are listed below. What do you think of their plans? Worth a shot? Or sadly misguided?
Recently acquired by chip maker Marvell, Kinoma’s development platform will allow developers to write apps for a number of different mobile operating systems. According to Marvell, apps built with Kinoma are integrated with the hardware at the OS level, meaning they can perform well even on slower hardware.
The first example of an app built using this technology is Kinoma Play, which can exist either as a standalone app or as the main user interface, depending on how deeply its integrated into a handset.
The Kinoma platform will be offered under an open source license in the future to encourage industry adoption. The Kinoma Play app is available for Nokia S60 devices, Windows Mobile phones and a beta for Android will be available soon.
The Wholesale Applications Community is an operator-led initiative to launch a global, wholesale app store of sorts, where HTML5 apps are deployed through the operators’ app stores, not consumer-facing ones like iTunes and the Android Market. Commercially launched at this month’s Mobile World Congress, the first carriers to support WAC apps are China Mobile, MTS, Orange, Smart, Telefonica, Telenor, Verizon and Vodafone. WAC is designed to support Java feature phones and Android, but not iOS at present. The apps are based on W3C’s widget standard, but do not run in a Web browser.
3. MobiUS Web Browser
A soon-to-launch browser app from appMobi aims to expand access to WAC apps outside of its initial implementations (see above) and bring WAC apps to iOS. The MobiUS browser will support the open APIs for WAC, PhoneGap and its own appMobi XDK. This allows the browser to access and control smartphone features like the accelerometer, camera, sound, vibration, file storage system, phone and more.
These apps will then be able to do much of what native apps can do, when running within the MobiUS browser. The apps will provide access to in-app payments, push notifications and analytics, says appMobi, and they’re built with standard Web technologies. That means they can be “installed” from anywhere – they don’t need to live in an app store.
Zeewe, a new, free HTML5 app store for the iPad and iPhone, Android, Symbian and the PC has been open for just a couple of weeks, but has attracted 100,000 visitors during that time the company says. Based in Brazil, Zeewe was surprised to find that half its traffic came from outside its home country, especially in India and the U.S.
The project reminds me a lot of OpenAppMkt a better known Web app store for iPhone, iPad and Android. That store has been around since late 2010, but it has yet to really take off – will Zeewe have better luck?
Now teamed up with large, third-party app store GetJar for discoverability purposes, Openwave applications built on its “Amplicity” platform have been designed for deployment by operators, as opposed to consumer-facing app stores. Sprint is the first U.S. operator to support the service. Under the new partnership, Openwave apps will be found in GetJar’s online app catalog. The integration will go live in Q2 2011.