We need a PC App Store

Walmart at dusk

The Apple iPhone App Store has revolutionised IP publishing over the last year and a bit. Tens of thousands of apps, billions of downloads. A business model that is so elegant and pervasive that it has now been widely imitated for a variety of platforms, but not yet for the PC.

You may say that all the application stores thus far have been for a proprietary platform and that the PC is an open platform. This does not mean that a store won’t work. Just look at the way Handmarket has beaten the sloth like Microsoft to creating a Windows Mobile Application store for proof that the store owner doesn’t need to own the platform.

If you were a PC owner an application store would be fantastic. You could go and browse a massive range of stuff to see what takes your fancy. Then within seconds it would be working on your computer, wherever you are in the world. Just like the Apple App Store some stuff would be free and some available for purchase over a secure system.

For the developer it would also be fantastic, a one stop shop to being published with all the admin done for you and 70% of the revenue coming back to you. And with the explosion in netbook usage there is a new untapped market.

And the company best placed to make a PC application store work? Step forward Valve who already have the premier online PC portal in Steam. They have the customer base to make this work from day one. So how about it Gabe?


  1. PCs already have a very very big App Store

    Its called the “internet”.

  2. Have you ever tried download.com? Or any other download site? Maybe I’m completely missing the point, since I never used an iPhone, but I do believe that the current pc software distribution is quite good. Not perfect, since many hard-working, smaller devs never really get their product to the public, but hey, life is not always fair.

  3. Ahsan the”internet” fails, because it is fragmented.

    A friend of mine has spent several year writing a PC App. However he has no route to market. So all his work is for nothing and his App just gets ignored. If he had written it for the iPhone he would be minting it.

    Once you created a working PC App store loads of new apps would come out of the woodwork. There would be an explosion of creativity.

  4. I can see how this might work once the momentum has been built up, but tempting consumers away from Download.com and convincing developers they’ll be on to a good thing by choosing a distribution method that costs them 30% of their revenue is a big ask.

  5. Valve is a good idea, but how does Gabe and crew transform a business model that is targeted, to be fair, at hardcore gaming geeks into a all pervasive all singing all dancing app store like the Apple one?

  6. Ahsan is right.

    The assumption that the iPhone App Store model is applicable to all situations is misguided. If you are unable to make your app discoverable with Google, the most powerful navigation tool ever devised, it’s going to sink in an App Store catalogue as well. And many, many PC download portals already exist.

    Releasing something on the App Store (or any other portal) does not automatically make it successful, as lots of people have found out the hard way by now.

  7. I think before you try and apply the App Store ideology to the PC consumer base, you have to take a hard look at the App Store and how it works. You have to factor in how many apps are duplicates with minor variations between them and then work out how many of them are sucessful.

    As mentioned, Google is a good App Store on it’s own. It’s been long established that if you think there’s a program for what you want, it probably exists and if it costs money to use / buy, then there’s probably a free verson a few hits lower.

    Oh and Piracy too. The PirateBay at times represents the largest app store in existance.

  8. If there was ever a way to do anything comparable to the iPhone app store it would probably have to be presented through the Zune in some form. They have the XNA studios, now if only The Zune HD could take full advantage of it. I’m hoping so.

  9. I use Valve’s ‘Steam’ platform as my PC app store. It was release over 5-6 years ago, setting the pace for things like Apple’s copycat app store.

  10. doesn’t ubuntu pretty much have one already?

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