Intel's boss Paul Otellini has now revealed what may be Intel's biggest secret weapon in the battle for PC dominance this year: An App Store. It's called Intel AppUp Center, and it's now open as a beta test version. Will it work?
Some free test applications are in fact already available for download from the site at www.intelappup.com, and ultimately Intel plans for the store to be jam-packed with applications covering the gamut from "business, education, entertainment, games, health" and "socializing" via social networks.
And who can use the apps? Well, anyone really. The store is apparently unique in offering software that'll run on both Windows and Mobile-based systems, which explains why Acer, Asus, Dell, and Samsung are already collaborating with Intel on how to incorporate the store into their computing offerings. Ultimately the plan is to expand it to cover all sorts of mobile gizmos like smartphones, "consumer electronic appliances, TVs and other devices based on future Intel processor families."
It all is very bold, but obvious when you look at the number of different bodies that have caught app store-itis in the months since Apple's game-changing iTunes App Store service began to skyrocket to the stars. What Intel is hoping to do is to stir up both public and developer enthusiasm about Intel-powered gear—netbook owners being the most obvious target, and the group Intel's chosen to target at first. These new PC owners may be totally new to the idea of portable computing, seduced by netbook's low prices—and a one-stop-suits-all store for games, handy bits of code, and so on will probably be very attractive.
But can Intel push the new app store into market prominence, given that there are a huge host of PC makers, and an extraordinary number of users who don't care what chip is inside their shiny new machine, as long as it works. Intel's clearly got some OEMs aboard so that the AppUp store can act as a trojan horse, of sorts: If access to it is pre-installed in some way, then it could sneak under the defenses of user who would otherwise Google for their software downloads, or head to the nearest big-box PC store.
And before you dismiss the idea as just another company jumping on the app store bandwagon, remember how big Intel actually is, and how much weight it could put behind the idea. And then remember an idea I suggested last year, in the wake of another successful MacHeist Apple software bundle: MacHeist could easily prompt Apple to launch a one-stop App Store-like system for Mac software too, as well as the iTunes iPhone app store. The convenience of looking in one place for your software is undeniable. All Intel has to do is to get some of the big names in general PC software on their side, and as well as simple casual game apps and Twitter software AppUp could really make a splash.
On the other hand, Intel's efforts may all be for nothing—it seems app store success is pretty hard to judge at the outset, and you could even suggest that Apple itself was taken aback.