OpenAppMkt: The Return of the iPhone Web App?
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the site invites you to create an OpenAppMkt icon on your home screen, so you can get back to the store as easily as you would fire up the native App Store.
But while doing all this on the Web makes it easier to share and gives developers more control, Chia and his colleagues didn’t create OpenAppMkt as a political statement. They’re entrepreneurs, after all. For all app sales processed through OpenAppMkt, the startup collects a 20 percent commission (in contrast to Apple’s 30 percent take).
“We’re extremely serious about this,” says Chia. So far, the startup has been bootstrapped, but now that it has launched the marketplace and begun to evangelize it, the company will start seeking outside investment, he says.
But is there really a viable supply of Web apps, not to mention real consumer demand for them? And why would any iPhone user go to OpenAppMkt, when browsing the iTunes App Store is as easy as walking down the aisles of a candy store?
In fact, some of the apps featured in OpenAppMkt today, such as the adventure game Hand of Greed and a sketchpad program called Harmonious, are also available as native iPhone apps. The developers “released the Web app for free just to get people to buy the native app,” Chia says.
Given the fact that Apple has been promoting HTML 5 and its built-in rich media capabilities as an alternative to Adobe’s Flash format, the Cupertino giant ought to welcome initiatives like OpenAppMkt that encourage the development of more HTML 5-based Web apps for the iPhone. On the other hand, if OpenAppMkt were to emerge as a serious competitor to the iTunes App Store, Apple might feel differently.
But part of the advantage of doing everything through the browser—right down to the OpenAppMkt store itself—is that Apple can’t do anything to stop it. “We don’t have a native app at all, and if they tried to block our domain we could just switch to another one,” says Chia. “So there is no way for them to really ban us.”
But he emphasizes that he’d like to establish friendly relations with Apple. “We are not here to compete against the native App Store,” Chia says. “We are here to provide an alternative, and provide more choices, and to give Web developers like ourselves an easy way to distribute their apps.”
If OpenAppMkt catches on with iPhone users, Chia says the company will work on an Android version, and then perhaps an iPad version. “Android is the next platform we’re targeting,” he says. “The only reason we don’t support it right now is because adding an app icon to the home screen requires a few more steps than on the iPhone.”
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