How OpenAppMkt is giving iPhone owners more choice

When asked exactly what the 'Open' in OpenAppMkt meant, Chia explained: "'Open' refers to the open web. Our marketplace works very much like the open web, in the sense that it's free to list and publish your web app, and it's curated by the community.

"The submission process is entirely self-service and there's no approval process. When a developer publishes an app, it's instantly available in our app store."

While the Android Market is open, we've still seen Google exercise its right to remove apps, and even remotely delete them. "The only hard rule we have is that we will remove apps that violate laws, or those that have been flagged by many as being harmful or deceiving," Chia added.

When you have native apps running from the device, there's no worry that if the store goes down, your apps cease to function. Chia points out that users are protected here: "All apps are hosted by the developers. We merely act as a proxy to authenticate, process payments and then pass payment information to the app in a safe and private manner."

Many apps will also work when offline. Though the YouTube app is fairly pointless without an internet connection, drawing tool 2B works perfectly once added to your Home screen, regardless of whether you're in a big city or down a cave.

Beating Apple at its own game?

It has been suggested that OpenAppMkt is a way to 'get around' the App Store approval process, and get onto the iPhone without going through Apple. With Google Voice available through OpenAppMkt, but not on the App Store, it's an easy conclusion to come to, but Chia says that this isn't its true purpose.

"We didn't start OpenAppMkt [intending] to 'route around' Apple. We started it to provide a better and familiar platform for mobile developers, and more app choices for end-users," he explains.

"We included Google's web apps in our app store ourselves, and it's analogous to linking to any website on the open web."

Because a link is all that's necessary to make web apps available, OpenAppMkt includes some free ones itself, like Google's array of web apps, and then enables developers to "claim" them if they wish, so they can monetise them. Because of this, the store is like a combination of app market and web aggregator.

OpenAppMkt youtube

OPEN TUBE: The YouTube web app is renowned for being even better than the iPhone's native version

With OpenAppMkt aiming for launch on the iPad and Android next, it has the potential to become the first truly cross-platform app store because the apps themselves don't rely on proprietary code.

However, even though open web standards are at the core of the experience, there are still differences between the devices and operating systems. For example, using some iOS-specific tags, a web app can be made to launch with a splash screen to hide loading times, or can be set to launch with the URL bar hidden (OpenAppMkt apps do both of these).

Obviously, this code won't work on Android phones, so will small niggling differences like these serve to get in the way of users' experiences with web apps? Chia actually sees opportunity for OpenAppMkt in this case, saying that one way the store can add value to apps "is to bridge those differences for developers, so they don't have to worry about them".

Cool HTML5 apps

Though the BBC's Erik Huggers suggested that HTML5 is "starting to sail off course", Chia has no such concerns. "HTML5 is more capable than most developers realise," he said. "It's slowly gaining mindshare, and I'm confident that we'll be seeing a lot of cool apps built with HTML5."

Google seems to be equally confident in web apps, with the Chrome Web Store set to open later this year. Though the search giant is capable of totally eclipsing smaller developers, Chia is confident that OpenAppMkt and Google's store can coexist, and that another outlet for web apps can only be a good thing.

"The Chrome web store is more focused on desktop apps. We are fully focused on mobile apps. We feel that the more places a developer can distribute their apps, the better it is for the entire ecosystem.

"We want developers to realize that they can distribute and monetise their apps on the open web today. We will consider OpenAppMkt to be successful if developers are able to build substantial businesses on the mobile web."


Liked this? Then check out App Store millionaires share their secrets

Sign up for TechRadar's free Weird Week in Tech newsletter
Get the oddest tech stories of the week, plus the most popular news and reviews delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up at

Follow TechRadar on Twitter * Find us on Facebook