Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Google Chrome Web Store goes Global - Why should I care?

Last year in December, Google officially unveiled the Chrome Web Store for US audience. Since then it has added feature on developer dashboard that lets developers enable their apps for multiple countries across the globe. Web Store can be defined in simplest term as a hub with collection of web application URLs that are useful and entertaining but hard to find. The key is “hard to find”. Thousands of developers around the world, every day, create amazing web experience that if supported by marketing budget can make our life easy or entertaining. There are thousands of productivity apps, entertainment apps, social apps, educational apps, lifestyle apps and list goes on. These apps are not always backed by strong companies with huge marketing budgets thus, we never hear of them. Discovery and awareness of these apps is the biggest challenge for their creators! Google Chrome Web Stores solves the discovery problem. It provides a single location with categorized access to web applications. These applications show-up as a bookmarked items on any new Chrome browser tab. Apart from packaging your web URL as Chrome Web application also known as hosted apps developers can now leverage power of HTML5 to develop applications that are standalone and can be accessed offline. Chrome Web Store provides full support for deploying standalone applications known as “packaged apps”. Packaged apps can get per-approved permission to utilize powerful HTML5 features such as “unlimetedStorage”, “geoLocation”, “notifications” etc. One of the packaged apps I am particularly fond of is Stickies apps. You got to check it out!

Deploying your hosted app or packaged app on Chrome Web Store is a simple process. You create a manifest file, package your manifest in a .CRX file and boom it is ready! Developers have to pay a nominal fee to deploy applications to the store. The question is what’s it worth to use this new channel to get you application on Chrome?

Discovery: The biggest benefit of using Chrome Web Store is discovery. Your audience can easily access your application in right category. Imagine you build an application but no one can find it in billion + sites on the web. Google Chrome Web Store can act as a channel to distribute your app. As a seasoned marketer will tell you, no matter how good is your product, a strong distribution channel is what will make it sell!

Reviews and Ratings: Chrome Web Store allows users to rate and review applications similar to Android marketplace. The rating and review is a powerful tool to get user testimonial and word of mouth marketing. Ratings and reviews is like icing on the cake.

Credibility: Google brings credibility to your application! This happens in two ways. a) If one finds an application on the web via Google search there is always skeptics on how secure the site is, Chrome Web Store provides credibility to your application since no one ever has a second thought about security when using an application from such stores. b) Google supports in-app payment via Google. The payment gateway backed by Google is trusted more than random site asking for user’s credit card!

Finally, think of Google Chrome Web Store as an additional distribution channel for your web application. If you have not thought about putting your application out there, you should!

-- Salim Hemdani @shemdani