Intel has revealed new partnerships with UK high street stalwart Dixons as well as book seller Barnes and Noble and Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Asus as it officially launches the AppUp online application store.
Originally unveiled in beta form last year, Intel's Renee James announced at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) today that AppUp is now officially good to go.
AppUp is Intel's answer to Apple's iTunes app store and provides an online portal for purchasing applications for devices running the MeeGo, Moblin and Windows operating systems.
Currently, AppUp's content is mainly aimed at netbook and tablet users. Eventually, Intel hopes it will be bursting with software for smartphones, internet-connected TVs and more.
Wrapping your head around Intel's intentions with AppUp isn't easy. For starters, Intel isn't getting into the business of selling software itself.
Instead, Intel provides the underlying app-store infrastructure which third parties will rebrand and reskin. What's more, AppUp theoretically includes a wide range of device types from smartphones to HDTVs.
So, how exactly does it work? The basic idea is that device users will log in to any AppUp-based store using a single login or profile. AppUp will recognise their device and only offer compatible software and applications. Moreover, this content will be the same whether it's the Dixons' AppUp store or Asus's.
Intel says AppUp has an advantage over the competition thanks to its 24 hour try-and-buy option which allows users to experience the full experience of any app gratis for one day.
At this point, you may be wondering what the point is of having multiple stores selling the same content. If you're Dixons it makes sense in commercial terms thanks to the cut received on every app sale. But for the end user, it makes for a confusing and fragmented looking market place.
The great unwashed
The reason appears to be Intel's reluctance to get its hands dirty dealing direct with consumers. It's simply not something it is comfortable with. Consequently, it's hard to know what to make of AppUp, whether it will be a success and if so in what segments.
During its beta phase, AppUp was dominated by netbook users. However, if Intel does manage to get traction in the smartphone market with the Atom chip and MeeGo companion OS – and that's a huge, neon-lit, 50-storey if – handsets could dominate the new marketplace.
Equally, however, with stiff competition from Apple and Google's Android, it's easy to imagine AppUp slowly fading into obscurity. Much like Intel's efforts to get into the HDTV segment, it's all to play for. One thing we're fairly certain of, however, is that if it is a success, it'll take some iteration and consolidation to achieve.
For the record, the Dixons AppUp store will goes live for download November 1st. Dixons' Gary Hearns told TechRadar that Advent-branded systems with AppUp preinstalled will begin shipping at the beginning of 2011.
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