What Apple has done for the iPhone with its App Store, Intel hopes to do for netbooks with its new AppUp Center, a downloadable storefront for games and other software.
Unveiled during a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the AppUp Center aims to provide a centralized location for users of netbooks -- a vaguely-categorized but fast-growing ultraportable laptop segment -- to find and buy software.
It's available as a Windows download from Intel's official site
, but Intel says the store will support the Moblin (mobile Linux) operating system as well. Users can browse software without an account, but must register a credit card with the service to download software. Some applications are free; paid software can be canceled within 24 hours of the download without the user's credit card being charged.
The AppUp Center is currently in beta, and has a relatively limited software selection. There are 17 games available, two of which are free (oddly, a version of Solitaire
-- a Windows staple -- is offered at $9.99, the highest game price point). Most launch games are fairly simple puzzle, card, and matching games. Other categories include entertainment, finance, reference, social, and utilities.
Developer outreach for the program is handled through Intel's Atom Developer Program
. The AppUp Center and its software will still run on CPUs other than Intel's netbook-focused Atom (Gamasutra launched the store on a standard Windows desktop PC), but the company says it is targeted at that hardware. A development SDK is offered through that site. For an unspecified amount of time, the $99 yearly developer fee to join the program is being waived.
In addition to earning money from software sales to consumers, developers can earn royalties when other developers integrate components they create.
"The Intel AppUp SM center offers netbook users quick and easy access to applications specifically tailored to their mobile lifestyle," said Intel software and services GM Renee James in a statement. "Our store does the work of aggregating, categorizing and validating applications so consumers can shop, collect and install from one easy source. With today’s kickoff of our beta store, both developers and consumers will be able to take advantage of the rapid expansion of this new category of computing as the stores continually add apps."
Intel says "many more apps" will be routinely added to the storefront. It is working with computer makers Acer, Asus, Dell, and Samsung to create manufacturer-branded versions of the AppUp Center for their laptops.