End users are interested in downloading applications to their desktops according to their needs, and they want to do so quickly and easily.
This is the belief of Tom Huntington, vice president of marketing at SweetLabs, which has created Pokki, an application platform and store for HTML5 applications for Windows. The goal is to help improve the end-user experience of downloading applications directly to the desktop.
“Ease of use for applications hasn’t been on the desktop, but consumers are very used to it,” Huntington said, noting that Pokki applications are similar to iPhone applications, but are used on the desktop and are HTML5 compatible.
Pokki applications offer a similar end-user experience to the Chrome application experience where a website or Web application is wrapped with a new UI and packaged for the desktop or browser, Huntington explained.
The Pokki desktop platform can be used to create Windows applications, with support for Mac to come in the future, if all goes according to the company’s plan. “Ultimately, [Pokki] will be a true app platform across multiple operating systems and platforms,” Huntington said.
Pokki, named after a Japanese sweet candy, is not the only company currently working on the desktop app experience. Appcelerator, creator of the Titanium IDE and development platform, believes the key to creating that mobile-like desktop app experience is to understand that desktop apps have to be different from mobile applications.
“These desktop apps are smaller in size and the method of distribution has been changed. Apps are becoming increasingly more cloud-connected,” Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, said.
He said Wunderlist, a desktop, mobile and Web-based application created using Appcelerator Titanium, is a perfect example of the changing marketplace. It is a different experience across all platforms, from mobile to desktop to Web, but it is similar in that all tasks are ported from one representation of the app to another, Schwarzhoff said. This is possible because the business logic stays the same while the UI changes from application to application.
New application store models can be divided into those that sell business-to-business, business-to-consumer or enterprise applications, according to Steve Schmidt, vice president of product management at Flexera, a software licensing and compliance maintenance company.
Schmidt said each of these possible application store models will present challenges for current independent software vendors.
In the business-to-business store, which could potentially include Salesforce applications, word-processing applications, human-resource directory applications and others, Schmidt said that complex licensing issues could be why these types of stores have yet to pop up on a large scale. He said that contracts for enterprise software are often very specific, detailing how many users will be using it and for what period of time, whereas on-demand software have to be estimated up front and then determined at the end of a billing cycle. For the business-to-consumer app stores, like Apple’s App Store, he said the licensing strategies could remain the same as when CD-ROMs were distributed.
Flexera’s software distribution package, similar to software provided by Desaware and others, allows developers to insert installation and licensing code into their applications so that consumers have the right to use the application for certain devices or for a number of times, based on the license they buy. All of these distribution channels will help independent software vendors port their applications to these new application stores relatively quickly.
For enterprise application stores, Schmidt explained that IT departments would have to be comfortable with allowing end users to make purchases on their own. This, he said, would mean that the application store would have some sort of filter or checkpoint set up to notify IT of software dependencies or potential conflicts with software already installed on the network.