App App and Away

After the netbook phenomenon, most if not all technology hardware manufacturers are coming out with touchscreen interface. Be it phone or be it a computer, touchscreen is in. So what’s the next big thing that will happen to the technology world? Mobile commerce.

Apple started everything with its AppStore. Google came out with Market. Microsoft with Marketplace. Nokia with its OviStore. Samsung has its Samsung Appstore. So who is the latest to join the online store craze? Hewlett Packard (HP).

HP recently introduced the beta version of the HP Download Store, which serves as a virtual marketplace for consumers and small business owners to conveniently purchase and download the most popular software, games and HP services. The HP Download Store, powered by Digital River, was created to help customers find the ideal software or services to enhance and complete their computing experience from the comfort of their homes or offices.

The HP Download Store offers a wide variety of the latest titles from leading brands including Microsoft, Adobe, Norton from Symantec and Roxio, along with popular games like Star Trek Online Deluxe Edition and James Cameron’s AVATAR: The Game. HP brings its customers the best titles in each category. Other offerings include:

– Software titles ideal for the distinct characteristics of HP Mini netbooks

– A two-year download option allowing users to reinstall software as needed with no disks to store and eliminating package waste

Monthly subscription services to fit every need and budget

The HP Download Store gives users access to six pay-as-you-go support and collaboration services. Ideal for cost-conscious consumers and small business owners, this subscription model provides quick access to HP’s premium support and collaboration services without an annual contract. The services are supported by North America-based HP technicians and available for HP and non-HP branded PCs. Services include:

– HP Virtual Rooms let users host online meetings with integrated audio, video and desktop sharing for as low as $12.95 per month. HP Virtual Rooms are a cost-effective way to connect with remote customers and business colleagues without the hassle and cost of travel.

– HP SmartFriend Assistance answers all hardware and software questions with just one phone call.

– HP Performance Tune-up Service puts users in direct contact with an advisor who remotely conducts a performance overhaul to remove viruses and unnecessary software and boost overall PC performance.

I won’t be surprise if other hardware makers will follow this new offering from HP. It won’t be difficult to setup an online store – all you need is a server, great bandwidth and an efficient online payment system and everyone is ready to go. The biggest challenge here would be the applications. The one who can offer the best application and the most affordable will win this new battle.

I just hope hardware makers will not force developers to sign an exclusivity contract with them – meaning if their application is already available to them, it cannot be available to another online stores. This will be a disadvantage to the developers and to the consumers as well.

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