Before anyone calls me a ‘hater” I’d point out my full throated defense of Google ChromeOS a mere three weeks ago. Before travel plans interrupted I even had a mini-debate with Paul Buchheit on Hacker News which is pretty brave if you think about it.
(let’s be honest, if you’re debating web apps with the creator of gmail the odds of you being right aren’t great)
Bottom Line: I believe in the Web App vision. But this doesn’t surprise me…
In December, after months of anticipation and discussions with third-party developers, Google finally unveiled the Chrome Web Store — an online portal that lets users purchase and ‘install’ web applications like TweetDeck, MOG, and hundreds of others. It’s one of the first platforms that helps developers monetize web applications using a unified payment system (in this case, Google Checkout), and it’s going to be deeply integrated into Google’s Chrome browser. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, nobody is really buying anything on it.
The cogent point is here…
There are some free applications that are getting far more attention, like Quick Note, which has 8,000 installs this week. Obviously it’s common for free applications to get more installations than premium apps, but the discrepancy — 65 paid installs versus 8,000 free — seems pretty steep.
So what’s the problem? People don’t pay for the web and Google Chrome Store is just the web repackaged.
If Google wants to have a “platform” they need to differentiate it from the web. Platforms have common interface elements, common storage locations and ways to talk to each other. Apps in the Chrome store have none of that.
To give an example, Aviary is a graphics editing program in the Chrome Store that is really very neat. But when you get into it the app looks nothing like Google Docs. When you save a file you have to register with Aviary and save the file on their server (separate from your Google docs). And don’t even think of copying a picture from Aviary to Google Docs using the much maligned “Web Clipboard” because it won’t work.
So what happens if I want to switch to another web based photo program in the future? Because there’s no standard for storage in Chrome Apps I’m going to have to deal with getting them out of Aviary somehow.
The same is true throughout the Chrome App Store. These “apps” have absolutely nothing in common. They’re just categorized web pages . So People don’t accept them as any different from a normal web page and almost no one is willing to pay for access to a web page.
It’s time for Google to go back to the drawing board. They need to establish some very basic guidelines and hold the store apps to those guidelines. Otherwise not only will the Chrome Store fail but ChromeOS will be right behind.