Google Launches Chrome's 'App Store For The Web' In Developer Preview

Earlier this week we covered new details about the Chrome Web Store, an ‘App Store for the web’ that Google first announced at its I/O conference in May. Now Google is giving developers their first taste of what they can expect from the new marketplace: the Chrome Web Store has launched in a developer preview.

Developers can now start uploading apps using the developer dashboard at the Chrome extensions gallery. During the preview, developers will only be able to see applications they’ve uploaded themselves (they won’t be visible to users). Details are on the Webstore’s overview page.

One key thing to note: while Google’s slides that were presented at GDC (and we reported on) indicated that developers would only pay a modest fee of 5% (Apple’s rev share on the App Store is 30%), the fee is actually 5% plus an additional 30 cents per transaction — which obviously represents a more significant chunk if your app is only selling for $1.99. Also note that the minimum price here is $1.99, not 99 cents as it is on the App Store. However, you don’t have to use Google’s integrated web store payments — you’re free to integrate another payment system into your app.

There’s also a one-time fee of $5, which is meant to help cut back on fraudulent activity. And yes, you can sell apps for free.

To use Chrome Web Store Payments, you must open a merchant account for Google Checkout, and you must associate that account with the store. When someone buys your app using Chrome Web Store Payments, Google charges you a processing fee of 5% + $0.30 per transaction; there are no other transaction costs. The minimum price you can charge with Chrome Web Store Payments is $1.99.

Also interesting: the web store will completely replace Chrome’s themes and extensions galleries when it launches, and it will allow developers to distribute and sell themes and extensions (in addition to the aforementioned apps).

The video below, which was posted to the Chromium blog, demonstrates how each web app will walk users through a permissions flow as part of the installation process. There’s also a good quote that sets expectations for what Google wants developers to be putting on the store:

“We expect web apps to deliver a tight focus and a rich user experience. In this sense a web app in the store should be more like a mobile application designed for a larger screen rather than a packaged installable website.