Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is Google's Chrome Web Store a precursor to Chrome tablets?

The rumors are flying that Google plans to release a Chrome OS-based tablet built by HTC in partnership with Verizon, and put it on sale on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving and the heaviest shopping day in the U.S.) Google is also preparing the Chrome Web Store--no rumor, since it was announced at the I/O Conference earlier this year. Details on the Store are now up on Google's web site; here are a few highlights:
  • Developers will be able to create and offer installable web apps based on HTML5 and Ajax, themes that change the look of the Chrome browser/OS, and Chrome browser extensions that change or add to the functionality of Chrome itself.
  • Apps can be given away or sold. The minimum price for sold apps is $1.99 (vs $0.99 in the iPhone app store), and Google will charge a processing fee of 5% of the sale price plus $0.30 per transaction (vs. Apple's 30% of the sale price.) For a $1.99 sale price, the developer would retain $1.59 from Google and $1.39 from Apple.
  • The Chrome Web Store also supports one-time payments as well as monthly or yearly subscriptions, free trial options, and what they call "custom payment solutions".
Google is clearly working to have a good population of apps, themes and extensions ready for this Fall, which is when the first Chrome OS tablet is rumored to be hitting the market. This may also explain in part why Google has refused to allow any tablet vendors to license Google's Android applications or access the Android Marketplace. If Google is positioning Android for phones and Chrome OS for tablets, it would be in its interest to discourage usage of Android for tablets. On the other hand, we hear of new Android tablets under development almost every day, and that Gingerbread, the next major release of Android, will have explicit support of tablets. So who knows, and more to the point, what are consumers to think if tablets running on two completely different Google operating systems come out at about the same time?
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