OpenAppMkt - the solution to the Apple "Walled Garden"?
Monday, 02 August 2010

OpenAppMkt provides a one stop shop for all iPhone web apps, which is good for the user and good for the developer. The only problem is that web apps can't do as much as native apps. We look at the pros and cons.



OpenAppMkt looks like the Apple iPhone App Store, but it isn't controlled by Apple and it isn't really the same at all. The OpenAppMkt is a good idea in that it allows developers to submit their iPhone apps for sales in the same way as in the App Store. Users can also download the OpenAppMkt to their phone, browse, pay (if the app isn't free), and install.




It all sounds great and many news reports are taking the attitude that it weakens Apple's iron grip on the app market - it doesn't. The point is that the OpenAppMkt only sells web applications for the iPhone and these have never been under the control of Apple. Indeed, if you take the time to find it, there is a directory of web apps, about 4500, maintained by Apple - Web Apps Directory. However, there is no avoiding the simple fact that web apps are a poor relation of native iOS 4 apps.

A web app is simply a standard HTML/CSS/Javascript application. It only differs from a standard web app by being optimised to run on the iPhone. The downside is that you can't submit the app to the App Store and, more importantly, you can't access the iPhone's special hardware - the accelerometer for example.

It is the inability to access the hardware that is the biggest restriction and this means that web apps tend to be games, calculators and other providers of information without too much interaction. There are Javascript libraries that let you access the hardware - for example  PhoneGap - but these require you to download the SDK, use a Mac and sell your work through the App Store.  What this means is that libraries like PhoneGap do have advantages in producing web apps that are easier to port to other platforms but they don't get round the "walled garden" problem posed by Apple. In short if you want to use the iPhone hardware you have to submit to Apple's control.



The new OpenAppMkt may not be a way to break Apple's control but it is still a welcome development. Currently the deal is a revenue split of 80% to the publisher and 20% to OpenAppMkt. For the cut OpenAppMkt provides a single point where users can find out, buy or download web applications and it deala with taking payment and looking after the transaction.

If you would like the arguments for web apps v native apps dished up as a rap - watch the video below, it has some nice moments.




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Last Updated ( Monday, 02 August 2010 )