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Intel sees rush to Netbook app store

The head of Intel's software developer network says app makers are "jumping all over this" to be ready to go when the store debuts next year.

As Intel and PC makers prepare to launch an app store for Netbooks in 2010, the emphasis is on speed.

"We have a lot of developers right now jumping all over this and writing apps and getting them ready," Scott Apeland, director of Intel's Developer Network, told CNET Wednesday. "Today, you can actually submit applications and get them in validation and be one of the first in the store when we have that available next year. We don't have specific dates. It's how fast we can get it up and ready."

Intel Atom Developer Program
Intel Atom Developer Program Intel

How fast? "The whole program is moving extremely fast. Now we're working frantically on getting the store ready," he said.

The store itself will come preinstalled on future Netbooks, according to Apeland. "We're working with OEM partners (PC makers) now to get this ready and preinstalled on systems. So, when a user purchases it, he just runs the app store...and pulls from a catalog of applications that are available and they can make the purchases right there," he said.

The largest suppliers of Netbooks using Intel's Atom processor are Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, and Asus--all of which are readying the next wave of Netbooks based Intel's new "Pine Trail" Atom technology, expected to launch sometime this month. It's a hot market: Intel said Wednesday that more than 50 million Netbooks are expected to be sold by the end of 2009.

Though most applications are expected to be written for the Linux operating system--Intel's version is called Moblin--Apeland claims that the program has a wide target.

"The Atom Developer Program doesn't favor one OS over another, and at its core, the program is meant to facilitate development across multiple OSes," he said. "Right now it's Windows and Moblin...we plan to expand support to different run-time environments, including Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight."

Apeland said that Intel's software developer network overall has between 700,000 and 1 million monthly users, and 20,000 independent software vendors (ISVs) who are members of the Intel software partner program. Though Apeland couldn't say how many of these developers are doing development specific to Atom-based Netbooks, he did allow that Intel has had "tens of thousands coming and checking out our site (and) thousands actually joining before we had any (software development kit) or tools available."

The developer will get 70 percent of the revenue from the sale, Apeland said--similar to the Apple app store. "The rest (30 percent) will cover operational costs and partner costs that are involved." Intel announced a beta of a software development kit on Wednesday for Atom processor-based Netbooks.

Apeland also discussed the type of applications that are popular. "For example, social networking, on-line chats, sharing of photos, video. I think there's going to be a lot of innovation around that," he said, adding that development will also target "a way so users don't have to worry about--keep track of--different sites for log-in."

On the education front, Apeland said, "the Netbook has a lot of natural opportunity because of the keyboard and screen size versus a small handheld device."