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Google previews Chrome OS usage with Web Store

When Chrome OS Netbooks arrive, Google will need some vehicle for helping users find compelling Web applications. Enter the Chrome Web Store.

Google Chrome Web Store
Google showed off a preview of the Chrome Web Store Wednesday at Google I/O. James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--Application discovery may be one of the bigger issues in the exploding mobile computing market, but Google plans to launch its own take on Web application discovery for the browser later this year.

The company unveiled plans for the Chrome Web Store Wednesday during the first day of Google I/O. The idea is to give Chrome and Chrome OS users a one-stop Web application store of sorts, allowing them to access a central directory through their browser or Chrome OS computers and pay for those applications right from the storefront.

If it sounds like Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market, that's because it's a similar concept. Gone are the days of shrink-wrapped software that computer users could find on store shelves, said Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google and one of the key architects behind the Chrome OS project.

It's much harder to find a central place for rating Web applications, Pichai said, obviously not familiar with the service provided by my colleagues at The store will likely be a central answer to the question of how Chrome OS Netbook users will get applications on their device.

However, it won't be the exclusive way of doing that, Pichai said. After all, the Web is the Web, and Web applications can be downloaded and installed from anywhere on the Web, he said. Other browsers will be able to hook into the Chrome Web Store if they choose to support the technology as well.

But Google will provide a high-profile repository for Web developers. Google will give developers 70 percent of the revenue generated through the Chrome Web Store, and while Pichai didn't explicitly confirm this, it sounds like the payments will be processed through Google Checkout.

One of Google's big challenges when Chrome OS Netbooks are ready toward the end of 2010 will be convincing a skeptical public that everything they need to have a comprehensive computing experience can be found on the Web. The store will help drive that point home.