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Project Vector: The Ultimate App Store?

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In his latest blog post, Jonathan Schwartz talks about a new app store for Java codenamed Project Vector. By the time it's released it will likely be called Java Store. It seems that it will be implemented through the Java Update mechanism, the same was that you were able to get Google Toolbar along with Java updates.

How will it work? Candidate applications will be submitted via a simple web site, evaluated by Sun for safety and content, then presented under free or fee terms to the broad Java audience via our update mechanism. Over time, developers will bid for position on our storefront, and the relationships won't be exclusive (as they have been for search). As with other app stores, Sun will charge for distribution - but unlike other app stores, whose audiences are tiny, measured in the millions or tens of millions, ours will have what we estimate to be approximately a billion users. That's clearly a lot of traffic, and will position the Java App Store as having just about the world's largest audience. 

The full announcement will be made at JavaOne, where we'll get more details. This is smart thinking from Sun - it gives all companies, especially startups, a large user base to promote their applications. And of course, it creates some revenue for Sun. I've always thought that it would help JavaFX if it had it's own app store - this seems to go one step further, including non-Java applications. Would you be tempted to make your application available through these channels?


Aside, Schwartz mentions that he can't discuss anything about the Oracle acquisition, but does link to the preliminary merger statement.

Reference: http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/will_java_be_the_world


Thierry Milard replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 4:21am

Good move.

Hope it will be good looking and apealling.



Osvaldo Doederlein replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 8:31am

This is great news for JavaFX, makes obvious great use of its mobile/desktop portability... And even changes the parameter for judgements - nobody will complain that the JRE+JavaFX download is too big and slow when they are compared e.g. to iTunes + QuickTime (+ Safari too if you're on Windows). ;-)

It's worth notice that (always assuming that this App Store will be any good), JavaFX comes ahead of the pack as neither Adobe with AIR, nor Microsoft with Silverlight, have a similar distribution channel. At least not anything relevant (stuff like this, for example, is not relevant).

And yes, Apple is king of the hill with the iPhone App Store, but they command a small piece of the market, and distribution of native applications will ALWAYS be plagued by several problems that even a expensive validation process will not eliminate completely. Because managed languages are much better for this, I was expecting Microsoft to come up with some great pure-.NET-based App Store (to also kill bad old ActiveX for good), but apparently, Sun was faster.

Bill Snyder replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 9:34am

On the surface this sounds like a good move, but I am not sure about the relevance. I think other app stores have succeeded because they target a specific mobile device platform.

Yes, Java's strength is that it is ubiquitous, on all kinds of varying platforms. It seems a safe bet that 75% of the devices are either desktops/notebooks or non-smart phones. Which in turn makes ensuring quality and content delivery a challenge. 

 Don't get me wrong, I would love to sell JavaFX apps or Netbeans apps. JavaFX rocks! But, I am not sure about the market for app-store-ish consumer desktop apps (I am betting the Java Store will be desktop only at launch - reasoning: mobile content distribution is too painful with the device/carrier variations - And JavaFX mobile devices are available) It seems that the mobile market is the better bet. Otherwise, there would be a .NET app store, or OS X app store already.

 Hopefully Sun has a sound strategy for this. Looking forward to it...

Osvaldo Doederlein replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 10:38am in response to: Bill Snyder

It's hard to buy your argument that something succeeded because of a limitation. Yes, this limitation has the advantage of making several things easier, but a portable platform like Java gives you the same advantage (and then some more).

The only advantage of Apple's App Store is that it targets a device that is highly stable and consistent - developers don't have to target 15.000 different models of iPhone/iPod, like we must do e.g. for Nokia handsets even if we completely ignore other vendors - but this is a different discussion. I have some hope that platforms like iPhone and Android will show to device makers that less is more, for any platform that supports third party applications. The real problem is that these device makers have a business model that targets the needs and strategy of carriers, not end users.

"Otherwise, there would be a .NET app store, or OS X app store already" - perhaps there are other reasons why such stores don't exist yet (although I agree that the mobile market is a better target). The desktop market is old business that would be difficult to change. Those applets being sold in App Stores are very simple and cheap, and desktop apps are neither. I guess a desktop-compatible App Store could be very good for simple programs that are usually free, shareware, sustained by donations etc. If you are writing a small utility that deserves anything from $0 to $9.99, the App Store channel is much better than other options.

Bill Snyder replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 11:00am

For one I hope it succeeds. Here's to hoping it will it be different from download.com or other like sites that already tailor to small-medium size freeware/shareware apps.

My point to the (self-)limitations imposed by Apple, Google, RIM on their app stores is this: in today's consumer oriented culture it's more about the mobile apps then stationary desktop apps.

Imposing limitations has its virtues (time to market, control) ; but it is also, well, limiting...I see what you are saying. The question is how big a chunk is Sun/Oracle going to bite off? Desktop, browser, and all mobile markets, or a subset?


Ivan Lazarte replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 10:57am

I didn't see anything saying this was only a JavaFX thing. Am I wrong? It seems like any java application could benefit from this. While I think it's a good thing for the Java desktop market, I think they need to also continue with browser integration issues and more importantly, bringing a serious competitor iphone first.

Ivan Lazarte replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 2:58pm

You know what would also be awesome for this? A developer api so 3rd party developers could make finding applications on the store suitable to their problem domain. VectorMedical.com webapp for example, or VectorGames.com etc.. Since it's on the desktop, might as well exploit the browser and extensive developer base to virally expose the apps and thus give the store more business. I'd even go as far as to say it would be a mistake if it didn't launch with the promise of some sort of api for 3rd party devs.

James Sugrue replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 5:53pm in response to: Ivan Lazarte

True. In fact, from my reading of it, it doesn't necessarily need to be a Java app. They mention Google toolbar as an example, so I guess it could be anything.

Stephan Bardubitzki replied on Tue, 2009/05/19 - 11:02pm

To participate as a developer or ISV on any of the available app stores I know your application needs to have a price tag for the download. We have, for example,  a mobile service app that we charge on a pay-per-use model.  It would be nice to see a revenue sharing model for such apps on a Java store.

Rick Ross replied on Wed, 2009/05/20 - 7:58am

I would dearly love for Project Vector to provide a successful commercial outlet for the creative enrgy of Java developers everywhere, but I'm sad to say I don't have high hopes that Sun will manage it successfully. It would be fantastic to be wrong on this one, but I simply cannot look at the evidence of Sun's track record and conclude that Project Vector will be the turning point for a positive reversal.

Gregg Bolinger replied on Wed, 2009/05/20 - 8:26am

I have absolutely no hope for this.  Sun is infamous for early announcements and half assed promises (JSF, JavaFX anyone?).  So if this is typical Sun, in about a year we'll see some sorry excuse for an implementation of Vector and that is even assuming Oracle doesn't kill it once the aquisition is complete.

 I'm not saying it's not a good idea.  I just don't have faith that Sun can pull it off, as Rick said.

Ivan Lazarte replied on Wed, 2009/05/20 - 8:49am

In that case full steam ahead on my iphone app. Thanks Sun! hah.

Kjetil Valstadsve replied on Wed, 2009/05/20 - 12:10pm

jFart! fart4j! The Singularity inches ever closer.

Manjuka Soysa replied on Wed, 2009/05/20 - 8:52pm

I agree with Bill Snyder.. not sure what all the excitement is about. If it can be any old desktop app, has anyone heard of download.com? I think they are going great guns.
The analogy to the toolbars provided in the blog is not quite right. I vaguely remember an offer to install some toolbar when I installed a JDK or JRE. I promptly refused the offer. But I would have been really p*ssed off if it offered to install a thousand other applications. So that's not what an app-store is about - I don't know why he just threw that in. May be there will be prompts by the Java updater in the future offering other applications?!? Again I would promptly refuse (and be p*ssed off), but some might fall for that.. lets wait and see.
We were asking for app-stores when we thought Applets had a chance to dominate, when Yahoo Games were in Java, when Swing came out, and when WebStart came out - but Sun was not listening.
What can work on the desktop now? May be if there was a popular JavaFX widgets platform I can see an app-store for that working. Mobile of course is a different question - if JavaFX Mobile becomes popular there's a whole lot of opportunity there.

Jochen Bedersdorfer replied on Fri, 2009/05/22 - 5:40pm

After all these years, Sun should have learned that people don't use Java solutions because they think Java is soooo cool.

 They are using it because it solves a problem they have.

 Having a Java store just for the Java name is stupid. A billion users? Yeah, sure.


Sun should look into a J2ME app store or maybe a cross platform store, regardless of the tech used.


On a related note: I still find software like Squirrel SQL that thinks it is cool not to come with a regular exe on windows platform. Get over it, folks, double-clicking JAR files for most people will open 7Zip or Winzip or something. Go the extra step, create the proper installers for the platforms you support and don't mention "Oh zis is written in Java!" because you think that this is somehow cool. 

Most of your users couldn't care less.

José Luis Jaimes replied on Sat, 2009/05/23 - 12:45am

It would be great if Sun shows a demo at the JavaOne!

Dominique De Vito replied on Sat, 2009/05/30 - 9:51am

I have previously written 2 related posts:

Why not a game distribution on top of NetBeans or Eclipse ?

The NetBeans missing distributions ? - using NetBeans (runtime+libs) to define a toolbox for common tasks

Vector may enable to achieve that ideas.

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