Tag Archive | "app store"

Minecraft Pocket Edition for iOS Now Available on iPhone and iPad

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Minecraft Pocket Edition was released officially for Android a few weeks back, but Mojang, the company behind the popular indie game, had been ever silent about the iOS version. All we really knew was that they were working on it. Well it seems that Mojang was planning on launching the iOS version at the Minecon event that’s being held today and tomorrow, but they put Minecraft Pocket Edition for iOS up on the App Store ahead of time to ensure that it would be readily available at the time of the announcement. They should have known that their ravenous Minecraft fans would spot it in an instant!

Minecon is an event being held in Las Vegas by Mojang this weekend to celebrate the launch of the desktop version of Minecraft. “Launch?”, I hear you say, “but I thought Minecraft already sold over 4 million copies?” And thus the popularity of Minecraft becomes clear. Mojang has indeed sold in excess of 4 million copies of Minecraft prior to the game’s official launch. The game has been in a beta state for many months, seeing slow and continues updates from Mojang, and now what they’re calling the ‘launch’ version of the game is being released at Minecon, today, in fact.

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After numerous knockoffs, copy-cats, and fakes that have reached the App Store, the real Minecraft Pocket Edition for iOS is now available for download. You can download it right here for $6.99 as a universal app that works on the iPad and iPhone. On Android, Minecraft Pocket Edition has a free demo, and I expect to see a similar demo come to iOS in due time.

Both versions of Minecraft Pocket Edition for Android and iOS are still in the beta stage,  much like the desktop version once was. Mojang plans to regularly update these versions until they reach a level that they deem worthy of calling the launch version. At the moment, Minecraft Pocket edition doesn’t support the exact same gameplay, and is certainly harder to control through a touchscreen than with a mouse and keyboard, but the charm certainly remains.

If you haven’t played Minecraft before, I would recommend trying the desktop version of the game first. Minecraft Pocket Edition seems, to me, to be more of a ‘you can play it on the go if you can’t get enough of it’ sort of app, rather than an app that works flawlessly on a touchscreen. Not to say it doesn’t run well, but let’s face it, the game was designed to be played with a mouse and keyboard, and that’s how it plays best.

Limited multiplayer support exists in Minecraft Pocket Edition and is thankfully cross-compatible between iOS and Android, but unfortunately the Pocket Editions won’t work with the desktop version. In order to build and explore in the same world with friends, you must be on the same WiFi network.

Don’t know what Minecraft is? Well, it’s tough to explain because it’s a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For some, it’s like a virtual lego builder. For others, it’s an unlimited and randomly generated world for exploring. If any video could, this one seems to capture it well:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_yqOoUMHPg

I remember when I first started playing Minecraft. I was thankful that there was no iOS version, because I knew I’d get no work done if I could play Minecraft on my phone. Unfortunately, I’ve no longer got any place to hide.

Thoughts On The Amazon App Store Rumour

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I’ve seen a few references to a forum entry on Android Community Forums over the last 24hrs and while I don’t think the case in question can be rated highly, the thought that it generates is an interesting one to discuss.

Update: Techcrunch have been investigating and have some more details here.

Rumour: Amazon will start an Application Store [Ref: Amazon cooking something up?]

I’ve been analyzing the Intel AppUp store recently and also thinking about how Android-based tablets can solve the problem of not having the hooks and channel available for applications on large-screen Android devices. We already see that the requirement for an app-store on a consumer device is critical and the potential gains for the store that becomes ‘de facto’ are huge. Google are having successes in the smartphone area (although one report I read yesterday says that it needs to do a lot better due to the limited country coverage of Google Checkout. Update: News on that today too) but there are other areas too. Tablets, TV, Netbooks and Laptops. There’s even a chance to spruce-up the desktop application experience. I don’t see any one store covering this whole area but that doesn’t mean you can’t win if you rule the niche or vertical.

Amazon are no stranger to distribution and as we found out last year, already have a software distribution and monetisation product. It was games-only then but can someone please tell me the difference between distributing a game and distributing any other piece of PC software? The Amazon service runs in the cloud with all the usual Amazon specification, rating, review and comment features and as I write, there are 1823 games being offered from free to $39.99 (Service only available in the U.S.)

What if Amazon tuned this service up for any PC software and rolled it out to their 100+ countries? What if they included more than just PC software? What if Google asked them to carry a selection of premium apps aimed at new markets? What if a hundred thousand Android apps could suddenly be sold through credit card, and direct bank transfer? Update: Even newer news indicates that Amazon might be readying an Android Tablet.

There are a number of important elements that an App-store should have:

  • Categorisation
  • Monetises
  • Feedback/rating channel
  • Simplify install process
  • Provide search and discovery facilities
  • Simplify migration of PCs
  • Permit try-and-buy
  • Helps devs with incentives/marketing
  • Allow the community to curate
  • Provides affiliation opportunities

When you check these requirements off against an Amazon offering, nearly all of them are covered and with the huge Amazon brand and web presence, marketing it should be easier and cheaper than for most. The only barriers will be 1) Getting devs to submit their apps 2) Getting customers to download the market client. Both barriers are huge and interdependent and could need a pile of cash to solve.

Update: If Amazon were to successfully ship a million their own Android tablets with a set of pre-prepared tablet apps done under NDA, they might solve the chicken-and-egg problem of apps and pre-installed customer base. It’s exactly what Intel are attempting with netbooks and AppUp so it will be interesting to watch and compare.

Intel AppUp – Huge Potential but Risks Remain for the New Shop on the Block

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appuplogoIf you’ve been following tech websites recently, you will have heard a lot about application stores and applications over the last year. Apple did it and everyone followed. Developers have made money and customers have enjoyed a huge range of software solutions. A year ago, Intel announced that they too were getting into the app-store game. With 30 million netbooks out there and a clear strategy to push into TV, smartphones and cars,  it wasn’t a bad idea at all. Last week Intel took us to San Francisco to get an update on the progress so far.

Since last year we’ve seen some progress by the teams to roll out a client to Windows and to seed some apps by offering prizes for new apps. They’ve also seen progress in the netbook market which has now grown to 70M with another projected 40M to come on top of that in the next year. They’ve also seen the tablet opportunities take off as Apple proved that it could actually be a successful form factor. Clearly Intel are doubling-up their efforts too as we experienced an unprecedented amount of marketing for a software product. Keynote mentions, an AppUp store in the high street (the former Sony Style store no less) and an additional 2-day conference dedicated to everything AppUp.  Full disclosure must be given at this point – we had a fantastic time at the ‘Elements’ social event on Wednesday!

So it looks like AppUp is getting the support from within Intel but does it really stand a chance? Do we need software store on Windows? Possibly not but AppUp is a bit more than just a repository and spreads further than just netbooks.

Key Features of AppUp

  • Write native code – C++, QT
  • Assistance for porting iPhone apps is available (Angry Birds is coming soon!)
  • Write Flex apps (Adobe flash or Adobe Air)
  • Silverlight support is being worked on
  • Intel are managing the payment back-end
  • Intel are managing the app authorisation
  • There will be multiple branded and tailored stores. (We’re hearing that there could be 10 or more by the end of the year.)
  • Tailored stores do not have to show a complete catalogue
  • Intel are introducing a curation system where partners can highlight good apps. (this could extend to community members)
  • Sega, Konami, Unity and other game creators are on board
  • Device manufacturers are on board (Asus and Samsung will distribute the store with netbooks)
  • Device distributors are on board (Best-Buy, Currys and others have announced they will promote the app store)
  • The future includes media distribution
  • The future includes affiliation schemes (this is a killer feature in my opinion)
  • The hardware platforms we’ve seen so far are blowing away anything you’ll see on a smartphone in 2010.

AppUp is out of beta and available for Windows and Moblin (MeeGo coming soon.) You can download it here.

Over and above all that, there’s a significant point to note – this isn’t just a Windows-based product. Intel are pitching this as a value-add feature for MeeGo too and that means tablets, smart devices, smartphones, Smart TV, Google TV, MeeGo TV and products like Boxee that have announced they will ship a product on Intel Atom. Total addressable market for AppUp is quoted as about 500 million end user devices by end of 2013. With sales of netbooks due to reach 200M by that time I’d personally put it much higher. Develop today and you could be looking at some serious opportunities by end of 2011. I’m not joking when I say that i’m seriously looking at going back into writing software!

Problems Solved

It looks like Intel will have enough installed user-base before mid-2011 and with Intel’s marketing power and a big number of manufacturers and retail partners will solve the problem of activating those end-users. They also seem to be on track to seed applications by offering an easy route for porting from existing platforms. The Adobe Air route is almost too simple and I expect to see hundreds, if not thousands of flash games being optimised over to the platform (along with a new monetisation opportunity) in no time at all.

The problem of having compelling end-user products seems to be well on its way to being solved too. I see Windows as a barrier until MeeGo products hit the market but with Intel’s Atom platforms growing to cover the 4” to 42”+ screen range, there’s a tidy set of silicon, software and solution stacks forming. We’ll see interesting products in 2011 for sure. Google TV and the current tablet craze will make sure of that.

Getting the word out to developers shouldn’t be too hard either. Once the installed user-base is in place and once a few MeeGo products are on the market it will only take the existing media channels, blogs, forums and some Intel incentives to get the developers interested. If there’s one thing thats for sure, there are a huge number of fickle devs out there just looking for the next revenue opportunity.


AppUp Elements 2010 (13)

Guy Kawasaki, Scott Hershkowitz, Ben Parr, Loic Le Meur, Regan Fletcher at AppUp Elements

The 5 Challenges.

Challenge 1 is to seed the application store with quality applications that have been written with the end platform in mind. Right now we’re seeing apps ported over from other platforms (Windows Mobile, AIR, iPhone) to the netbook. While these apps seem to be taking the netbook screen into account, most of them are ignoring much of the screen space, processing power and graphics opportunities. I certainly didn’t see anything that blew me away at IDF and Elements.

Challenge 2 is to prevent the problem of applications appearing on the wrong platforms. An application written for MeeGo on a tablet may be looking for an accelerometer that just won’t be there on a netbook. I have no idea how AppUp will handle that.

Challenge 3 is time. iOS 4 is already making huge inroads in this area and if Apple dial-in new products, the momentum won’t stop. The same is true of Android 3.0. Application developers that have had success on these platforms may choose to concentrate on these opportunities first. Chrome OS and HTML5 is also something to watch during 2011 too.

Challenge 4 is Intel itself, While the Elements 2010 evening party was an impressive show of marketing that made me love Intel more and more during the evening, that is not going to make Intel ‘cool.’ How are they going to dial-in the magic that makes people sit up and take notice? AppUp itself is losely branded and likely to appear branded under other names but this sort of fragmentation could actually make it harder to market the solution to developers.

Challenge 5 is MeeGo and Ovi. MeeGo isn’t just an Intel project, it’s Nokia’s baby too and MeeGo for ARM could be huge. If AppUp is dropped on top of ARM MeeGo to make it even more compelling then the whole AppUp project would have bit the Intel boys in the bum. AppUp could limit itself to i86-only but even then, Ovi could come along and boost the products. Remember, ARM and Intel are playing in the same product space with Cortex and Atom,

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Peter Biddle – Head of AppUp Development for Intel

Exposing the Tail and Developer Feedback.

appup curation We were wined and dined, educated and stimulated by Intel in San Francisco but however long I sleep on this article I still see huge opportunities and an incredibly flexible application store framework. Curation and affiliation could be killer features and if you take a look at the slide on the right (click to enlarge) you can see that Intel sees the value in exposing the long tail. I wholeheartedly agree with that.  The biggest take-away though is the feedback from the developers so far. It’s all very positive and exciting and you can experience that first hand of a video we shot at the Elements event. Check the video out [Coming Soon] and get another opinion about what’s going on here.

It looks like we’ve really got quite the challenger here. As Paul Otellini said in his keynote last week, it’s about providing computing solutions and not just silicon now. Yup, it’s all about the apps, stupid!

The AppUp client is available here.

Intel Atom Software Summit Round-up and Notes.

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I got myself a big piece of Intel info-marketing at the Intel Atom Software Summit this week and it’s very clear and very significant that Intel managed to drag something like 200 people away from the Computex show floor for 2.5hrs. Atom, MeeGo and AppUp are such important parts of the Intel strategy now that they are getting pushed hard and it seems to be at least raising some eyebrows. The Intel Atom Software Summit at Computex was aimed at the ODM, OEM and operating system community in an effort bring them all up to date about what you might call the Continuum within the Continuum. Intel talks about a horizontal line of silicon products that serve different markets (the ‘Compute Continuum’)but there’s a vertical within the Atom segment that includes software, user interface and applications. It starts with 6 Atom silicon platforms that support many operating systems. Windows and MeeGo getting special attention and getting their own application ecosystem which includes an application delivery framework, back-end billing, application marketing and developer support.

Here are some notes from the software summit that I hope outline the key points that Intel is trying to put across. The full slide set is available here. (PDF) More information links are included below.

Session notes

Navin Shenoy – VP Intel Asia Pacific introduced the compute continuum (Xeon, Core, Atom) by saying that “Software is the difference between success and failure” and introduced Doug Fisher. VP Software and Services.

Doug presents…

[Slide: Mobile Internet is driving, possibly 10B units. ] The message here is that there’s a significant opportunity within the internet-connected device category.

Intel is a ‘Port of choice.” Multiple operating environments are offered. MeeGo Android Windows and Chrome were highlighted. [Sidenote: Chrome and Google are starting to appear more in the marketing i'm seeing.]

 

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Value proposition Slide:

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For OEMs:

  • Open platform – critical for value
  • Best internet Experience
  • Faster time to market

For Service provider:

  • Strong ecosystem
  • Reduce Churn – consistent environment across ecosystem

Value for Developers

  • Revenue opportunity.
  • Consistent tools and API.

 

MeeGo, joint OS build and UI framework highlighted. May release achieved. 1.0 reviews were good. Highlighted. on slide.

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Doug introduced some partners who highlighted their experience and expectation for MeeGo. As you would imagine, all three partners highlighted good experiences and expectations!

Novell’s Guy Lunardi talks about MeeGo 1.0

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Telekom Italia: We are participating with MeeGo on Cubo Vision. The product was ready in 4 months.

Orange and MeeGo;   Talks about value-add. Truly cross-platform device. No talk about real products. We can assume something is coming I guess.

Doung introduced demos of MeeGo 1.0 on netbook, IVI and Tablet.

X3T Tablet (3)

Message to developers: Amount of work to move apps to move from one product to another is minimal. Only 20% of code base re-write needed (user interface)

Tablet Demo:

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See video from yesterday for more on the MeeGo Tablet UI.

[Chippy sidenote: I think this is known as 'Info Launcher' and is a product of the MeeGo Enabling Center in Taiwan. It should be available later in the year. Note too that user interfaces are being developed alongside MeeGo and don't fall into the 6-month update cycle planned for MeeGo.]

AppUp – The Intel framework for application stores on MeeGo and Windows operating systems.

Peter Biddle demonstrates AppUp on MeeGo for tablets AND handhelds (video) first time ever.

Peter: We see phenomenal market in consumer software. We are engaging with Dev community. How:Dev program includes tools, sales channel and marketing.

Plea to audience: Work with us to create customers. Peter highlights this as the kick-start. [Chippy sidenote: Intel needs AppUp to be pre-installed on devices to succeed]

Peter talks about the efforts being done. The work to connect with top iPhone devs. Intel have hired some iPhone devs to help define ‘small’ developer requirements. See slide below.

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Biddle: We need to enable devs to get reputation because that is a significant requirement for many small devs.

Soma Games on stage: demo game:

Konami on stage: Joe Morris talks about poetential. [Chippy: Would be great to see Konami games on the AppUp store.]

 

Peter continues on AppUp:

  • Planning on coming out of beta soon.
  • Not worried about our ability to attract developers. We need consumers.
  • Online user awareness campaign has started.
  • AppUp.com relaunched.
  • AppUp demo on a Moblin smartphone (port to MeeGo is not complete yet)

AppUp on MeeGo on Handset

Ellis Wang of Asus on stage:

Highlights the launch of Asus Access Cloud: Built on AppUp for notebook and Eee PC customers. Enhanced AppUp.

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Note that ASUS and Acer have committed to releasing products that use MeeGo so one would expect that this service will appear there too.

Presentation ends.

At an after-event, we were given the opportunity to ask questions.

  • Is multi-user support going into MeeGo? Yes, it will be added to the roadmap.
  • MeeGo 1.1 will be released in October and will include always-on, sensor and gesture support. (It will support Oaktrail and Moorestown)
  • 4 main user interfaces are being worked-on by user groups. [Chippy sidenote: I've heard of 5. Handheld, tablet, netbook. In-vehicle and TV]
  • Intel has no position on the threat of patent issues with MeeGo (i.e.. No comment when I asked them whether MeeGo is guaranteed to be free from intellectual property issues.)
  • AppUp is not something that will go into Intel’s Android build.
  • Intel’s Android build is an official part of the Android work and work done will be sent back upstream.
  • Intel’s intention is to have X86 Android devices recognised by Google. (i.e. marketplace, maps , sync etc.)

The summary here is that Intel want to enable a choice of stacks that can run on Atom solutions. Intel wish to enable an application ecosystem for Windows and in Meego, another, free software choice for some selected markets such as in-vehicle, tablets and handhelds. The big take-away for me though is that a huge amount of Intel marketing effort is going into MeeGo and AppUp.

Related:

My hands-on overview of MeeGo 1.0 on a netbook.

A close-up demo of MeeGo’s tablet user interface on an Oaktrail platform.

Intel official slide set from Atom Software Summit

Intel Fact Sheet – MeeGo* and Intel AppUpSM Gain Momentum at Computex

Chrome Web Store – So That’s How They’ll Spice-Up Chrome OS!

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The last time I considered Chrome OS I called it a dumb OS. Too simple. Nothing Unique. OK, you’ll never need to update those web-based apps (although you can expect downtime when apps are upgraded) but is that the compelling reason to use Chrome OS?

Clearly there won’t be room for an Android-like application store so it will rely on web applications written in JavaScript, html5 and other web components. Google has given us a glimpse of the way they want to package and market web-based apps in the Chrome Web Store that has just been announced. The Web Store will help users find ‘installable web apps’ and presumably it will track apps but the interesting thing is that is will be a point-of-sale service. If Google find a way to become the payment clearing house for web applications, that’s an interesting model that could encourage many to move into the online application business. Chrome Web Store really could be the missing piece in the business-case for online applications.

The Chrome Web Store will be opening later this year. Will it be the key to making Chrome OS interesting? This could form a useful part of the mobile toolkit for those that have good ‘cloud’ access when out and about.

Via NDevil

Chromium blog.

Web Store information

Atomic Web Browser on iPad (and comparison to Safari) [video]

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photo Have a look at the awesome Atomic web browser for the iPhone and iPad. The app costs 99 cents in the app store and it’s a universal app, meaning you pay for it once and you get the iPhone and the iPad version. While the browser has a lot of great features, such as easy user agent spoofing, the feature that I like the most is the way that it handles tabs. It’s much faster and much more intuitive than Safari. Atomic web has become my new browser on my iPhone and iPad. Very much worth the 99 cent asking price.

Get In Early with the Atom Developer Program. (And win!)

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devchallenge Based on a projected addressable market of well over 400 million units (media phones) and a multi-million pre-existing netbook user base, it would be crazy for software developers to ignore the potential of Moblin, the Intel Atom Developer Program and App-store. Despite that, Intel want to give you even more reason to start early. They are giving away 100 netbooks for the first 100 applications that they accept into the app-store and a grand prize of an all expenses paid tip to CES. [Did someone just drop the hint that the app store will launch in Jan 2010?]

The Intel application developer program is currently free to enter (it will be $99 per year in the future) and you can develop native apps for either Moblin or Windows or use runtime environments like Air or Java.

I would love to hear feedback from anyone going through the Moblin application process so please, write in and tell us about your experiences. What coding skills do you have? How did you find the SDK and documentation? Tips for other developers? If you want to make a more detailed guest post about the IADP, I’ll be happy to send a $50 Amazon gift voucher your way (UK, Germany and US Amazon stores only. Only one article will be accepted for the gift voucher.)

More details on the Intel Atom Development Program.

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netbook_apps There’s a huge amount of information to digest around the announcement of the Intel Atom Development Program, or app-store but at a special lunch meeting with some of the key people in the IADP team I managed to refine what I think is going on here.

In summary you’re looking at Intel setting up a distribution, billing and  validation process for applications that are built to run on Windows and Moblin-based netbooks. Intel expect most of the (currently 19) Moblin distributors to build this into their Moblin-based distributions and on Windows, the system will be available as a downloadable application. It’s early stages for the program but I’m hearing that work on the back-end is well progressed and making an estimate that we’ll see this being fed into Moblin-based netbooks in the first half of 2010.

Key features of the program:

  • To be available for Windows and Moblin-based netbooks initially with other Intel architectures being supported at a later date.
  • Intel will manage the billing systems.
  • Component sharing to allow code segments, engines etc to be shared in a controlled way and including a financial payments system.
  • Reputation points. A feedback mechanism that scores developers.
  • Validation process. Intel will run an operation that will check for thinks like: clean install, component use, malware, security, network utilization issues, appropriate content. They will not be testing software for bugs.
  • Primary use is for binaries (executable programs) rather than source code. Open source sharing will be supported though.
  • There will be a lightweight mechanisms for licensing code to restrict use and provide statistics for developers.

Clearly this is a significant step forward for Moblin but also a significant step forward for distribution of Windows applications for netbooks. Intel are saying that the program is not there to generate revenue directly but to enhance the platform and make it more attractive for end users and developers. (Increased product sales.) The revenue split is likely to be 70/30 with the 30% going towards financing the validation process back-end systems and further development.

With tens of millions of Netbooks already out there and tens of millions coming, this is clearly something that developers need to take a closer look at. Moblin is not just for netbooks and as the platform support widens, I would expect this to be available for devices based on the Moorestown platform later in 2010. With one CPU and software architecture running across all of those platforms, from smartphones to laptops, there is a lot of potential for this to rise high on the list of platforms that developers consider when they write mobile and web-focused software.

For more information, see the new app developer website from Intel

Intel announces an app store for Moblin (better news than it might seem)

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Capture_000231 Chippy wrote about it not long ago and it looks like he was right on the money. At IDF 2009, Intel has announced the Intel Atom Developer Program, the ‘app store’ framework for mobile atom products.

Don’t cast this off as a ‘me too’ for Intel though, this app store brings some really benefits to the platforms that it will serve.

First of all, Intel’s Atom app store will function on Windows and Moblin. One application written by a developer will run on both of these devices with the help of Microsoft Silverlight and other multi-platform systems such as Adobe Air.

So what’s so great about an app store anyway? An app store has the ability to drive innovative application creation because it let’s developers focus on what they do best: development. By removing the barriers of sale, such as having to devise a secure payment and distribution method for each individual program, developers will be able to flourish. By breaking down these walls, even a single person with a good idea has a chance to make money from users that want their program. This means great applications for the users, and a money making potential for devs, which should draw developers to this platform.

While an app store is a good thing for consumers, it still has some barriers to overcome. An app store works great on something like the iPhone or Android, because these are systems that only run particular applications to begin with. Intel’s app store will be running on Moblin (Linux) and Windows; both x86 platforms which are already capable of running applications that are out there. Intel will need to distribute this app store well if people are going to really take advantage of it. By opening up this app store, Intel is competing against THE app store… not sure what I’m talking about? It’s called the internet. Because these machines are x86, users are used to simply finding and buying a program on the web, something that Intel will need to work hard to undo.

Jump over to MIDMoves for the full press release from Intel.



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