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Details on Google's Chrome Store and WebM plans

SAN FRANCISCO--At a press briefing here, Google executives provided more details about the two Web initiatives announced in this morning's keynote presentation: the Chrome Store for procuring Web applications, and the open-source WebM Web multimedia format it's developing with other companies.

The Chrome Store ...

* Is coming sometime this year. Google won't give a timetable more specific than "before Chrome OS ships," and that release isn't pegged to a date more exact than "later this year."

* Will require you to use Google's Chrome browser or Chrome OS netbook operating system. Google product management vice president Sundar Pichai said that "we are in conversations with other partners," and theoretically the Web-standard underpinnings of this storefront would let it work fine in Firefox or Safari ... but don't hold your breath just yet.

* Will look and work much like the Android Market, deliberately so.

* May or may not come with some sort of prior screening of applications. The Android Market doesn't, but Google wouldn't provide details on the store's policies.

* Should give developers 70 percent of the revenue of sales at the Chrome Store.

The WebM multimedia format ...

* Won't do anything for you until your browser supports it. Chrome, Firefox and Opera have it running in development versions (see, for instance, Mozilla's announcement), but if you're not into downloading "nightly builds" of open-source releases you'll be waiting for a little while.

* Should work better over time, Google says. As evidence, Pichai pointed to the improvements in JavaScript performance delivered by browser developers aware of how many sites rely on that scripting language to provide Web interactivity. That seems a fair point to me.

* May be the subject of patent lawsuits, legitimate or otherwise. But Google executives pronounced their confidence in its legal standing--earlier versions of the VP8 video format have been in the market for years.

* Won't support digital rights management. That means you're unlikely to be able to watch TV shows off Hulu for a long time to come. Said Pichai: "Today, Flash is still the right choice for that." Google co-founder Sergei Brin added that while open-source software doesn't really coexist with the traditional DRM approach (in which the software tries to keep secrets from its user), video sites could use other techniques to discourage widespread sharing, such as watermarks or fingerprints in a video that would identify who shared it.

Short version of this post: These two initiatives, like every other "breakthrough" advertised in a tech-show keynote, won't change the world right away. They'll need work by developers, which is hard, and cooperation among competing companies, which is harder.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 19, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  The Web , Video  
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Next: Google I/O, day two: And now, Android?

Comments

What is a "web application?" Is it like an iPhone app but it runs on your browser? I looked at the links but overlooked it if it is described there.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | May 20, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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