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Sun Launches Java App Store Beta at JavaOne

by Charles Humble on Jun 03, 2009 |

The success of Apple's App Store has inspired many other companies to imitate the concept and build their own systems. Virtually all of the major mobile vendors have announced or launched similar services and during the first keynote of JavaOne 2009 Sun launched the public beta of its own Java App Store which it said had been in development for around a year. Developers can submit Java applications to the Java Warehouse for distribution through the store. The beta is restricted to US citizens only and monetization details are yet to be finalized. Sun has stated that it will collaborate with the developer community in the coming weeks to design the compensation business model.

The App Store idea itself is a powerful one. One of the hardest problems for any company to solve is distribution – both getting access to consumers and having the infrastructure in place to support them. The ubiquity of Java on the desktop and other devices makes it an impressive distribution platform and both Google and Microsoft have paid Sun substantial fees to exploit this by distributing their search toolbars with the JRE installer. Sun Microsystems' chief executive Jonathan Schwartz told the conference that it was this success that prompted Sun to think about how it could be generalized to allow individual developers "to turn labors of love in to day jobs."

James Gossling gave one or two technical details away during the presentation. The store is based on a large server farm and a substantial set of REST APIs. The store front is a very simple JavaFX application aimed at mass market consumers and as such it aims to make installation as simple as possible regardless of the operating system or device you are using. To this end the store includes a preview feature which allows you to try out an application without needing to physically install it coupled with drag to install so that if you decide to install the app it can be done simply by dragging it onto the desktop.

Amongst the applications available in the store are TwitterFX., and RuneScape, from Jagex, Ltd. During the General Session Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard was awarded a Duke's Choice innovation award for the game, which has a user base of 150 million.

At a press conference after the General Session, Eric Klein, VP of marketing at Sun, talked about that fact that whilst Sun doesn’t have a monetization strategy yet they have thought of a "distribution strategy" so that partners can use the store as a default upgrade mechanism. InfoQ's Floyd Marinescu asked them how they are going to get people to use the store and Sun confirmed that it will use the JRE update process to offer an install of the store client in addition to the web version.

Sun is targeting a US roll-out of the store this year and a world-wide launch during 2010.

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