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For Joe Morris, vice president of mobile content for game company Konami, the difference between having to port a game to 200 platforms and just a handful is more than enough reason to get excited over Intel launching its application-distribution platform, AppUp.
“It’s extremely difficult to get our content out there on every platform and do it in a financially responsible way, but that’s the only way to do it now,” Morris said. “AppUp is a huge step forward in that regard.”
AppUp provides app developers with a distribution platform for apps that use Intel’s Atom processors — which Intel hopes will show up in just about everything. The new app distribution platform already had about 450,000 users in beta before it launched today.
Intel’s latest line of Atom processors sporting the Havok engine SDK look like they could beat up Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and Apple’s A4, a chip used in the iPad and iPhone 4 in a barroom brawl. Add to that support for Adobe’s Flash technology, which about 70 percent of games on the Internet run on. With those factors, it looks like there’s room for movement toward a unified platform under Intel’s banner.
But assuming AppUp is as successful as other major distribution platforms — a big assumption — it would leave users with three or four significant marketplaces to get apps: Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Market, and Intel’s AppUp — and no unified platform in sight. It’s probably not even expected, as both the Apple App Store and Android Market have been wildly popular with both users and developers.
Having multiple app stores is a barier to smaller developers trying to get their apps noticed. Not only does it force developers to create an app for multiple platforms, they have to market it to sometimes radically different audiences.
“You have a lot of small, independent developers that think they are going to make a trillion dollars off their latest and greatest app, and [instead they] get around $1.07 in their first month after launch because of how hard it is to be discovered,” said Eric Wittman, director of Flash platform services for Adobe.
It all depends on just how many devices the Atom processor makes it into. Intel demoed an Internet-connected treadmill, a racing bike that streamed information live to a pit crew, interactive advertisements and signs and even new ways to store photos and videos. Intel says the possibilities are endless, and they probably are — though it raises the question of whether the same app can really run on such diverse devices.
If apps can make it to even the most remote parts of everyday life, a unified platform for that alone might do enough for small and large developers alike might solve the marketing nightmare that is app fragmentation.
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