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Dr. Jimmy Tang male Group Editor

A semiconductor materials engineer who is also into DIY projects, audiophile, World of Warcraft, photography and fine cuisine.

The Great Intel AppUp Race

Intel just opened its doors to their AppUp store just 4 days ago during the Intel Developer Forum. You might say it's another one of the many app stores you'll find on the internet today, but it's probably not what Intel intended it to be.

In fact, Intel wants to consolidate app developers into a single store front where users can browse, try and buy their apps from a single trusted source. They understand that more and more app stores are being set up by OEMs and retail stores, so their main goal is to prevent such fragmentation in the marketplace. By creating a single app catalog which they manage, validate and host, they can control the quality of apps that gets developed while providing developers with all the support they need, in terms of getting the tools, SDKs and store management together.

For developers, Intel's effort in helping them start developing apps on their x86 architecture is a good step towards reaching the vast user base created by the netbook ecosystem. And with new derivative products based on the Intel Atom processor announced just recently, you can expect to see more and more unique devices created for the x86 architecture.

For consumers, getting to the Intel AppUp Centre is simple. Just visit the site, register as a user and download the AppUp application to your netbook to begin browsing and downloading any of the titles there. The AppUp store is currently available for both Windows XP/7 and Moblin (or soon to be MeeGo) operating systems and it contains about 1000 different titles. Some of them are free and some are available for as low as 99 cents. One unique feature about the AppUp store is that it allows users to download a full featured app and try it for 24 hours before buying it. This would allow users to try the full software and not feature-crippled versions that do not quite do the app any justice.

It's a commendable effort since the beta AppUp developer program was launched only at CES early this year. With the launch of the store, companies such as Barnes & Noble, iWin, KONAMI and Sega have already made their apps available in AppUp, with more expected in the pipeline.

Yet with all the efforts Intel has invested into their AppUp program, developers are increasingly stretched by the complexity brought about by the many variations of devices in the market. Today we have laptops and notebooks, but in the really near future, expect to find tablets, MIDs, mobile phones and even smart TVs. Although these products provide developers with great opportunities to market their apps, differences in the devices' features make it all the more difficult. Every device out there would feature different screen resolutions, GPS devices, gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers (digital compass), camera, I/Os (mouse or touch) and the list goes on and on.

To add on to that, developers would also need to look beyond x86 and consider other popular platforms like Apple's iOS and Google's Android. So, besides learning how to develop on the x86 platform, one needs to know Java (for Android) and Objective-C (for iOS) if they are serious in expanding the market for their apps. But the good news for developers is the availability of a common development platform like Adobe AIR that offers a common runtime across various operating systems like Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Android. Adobe AIR even supports Apple iOS through its packager for the iPhone but Apple's policy with respect to using other compilers, it's hard to be certain if Adobe AIR would remain to be a viable alternative for iOS developers. Still, Adobe AIR presents itself as a possible choice for developers wanting the quickest route to deployment especially when Intel's AppUp program does come with support for Adobe AIR apps via Adobe's Melrose.

These were all real concerns of developers today especially when faced with an ever expanding marketplace for apps. It is expected that by 2015, the number of apps downloaded would have expanded to at least 25 billion mobile applications. These were all discussed at the inaugural Intel AppUp Elements event which took place just hours after IDF. The yearly conference is aimed at gathering all developers to learn from their peers while discussing real business issues faced by developers.

The market is huge and the opportunity is there for the taking. To all developers, individuals or companies, it's a good time to start getting your apps into Intel's AppUp Centre. With only 1000 apps in the catalog and millions of netbook users expected to be browsing the AppUp store, you can be sure of getting your app noticed. So start coding and get yourself registered at Intel's AppUp developer program, download the SDK and learn how to develop. The x86 market is still undeniably the largest today, so there's no better time to get started and join the great Intel AppUp race.

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