First released in 2008, the Intel Atom processor powers netbooks from a range of manufacturers including Asus, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Samsung and MSI. The Intel Atom Processor Developer Program was announced at Intel's Developer Forum in September 2009. The Beta SDKs were made available in December.
The SDKs, now in beta 2, support developing native apps that run in Windows 7 Starter, Windows XP SP3 and open source Moblin 2.1 Linux environments. The SDKs enable developers to get access to technical information, libraries and to submit apps for validation, AppUp distribution and revenue sharing. Developers can receive up to 70 percent of revenues, according to the company.
"We think there is a huge opportunity there for people who are used to developing in the Windows environment," said Peter Biddle, head of Intel's AppUp products and services. "The consumer usage model is being underserved based on the assumption that you always have a browser and connectivity. We are encouraging Windows developers to approach netbooks as a business, and to write apps that provide a good online and offline experience."
Intel AppUp Center, which is still in beta, was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. At that time, the center was limited to apps for Windows-based netbooks in North America. Starting in January, users could download a Windows client from AppUp Center to access free or for purchase apps from their netbooks. At CES, Intel announced that 350 apps had already been submitted for review and more than 3,000 developers had signed up for the Atom Processor Developer Program.
AppUp clients will be pre-installed on netbooks in the future, according to Intel. The company is working with partners Acer, Asus, Dell and Samsung on app storesвЂ”some of the manufacturers have their own marketplaces--and forthcoming applications.
The Intel AppUp Center Beta for Moblin v2.1-based netbooks in the United States and Canada was announced last week. An open source Linux marketplace aimed at consumers may fill a need, as Bob Duffy, community manager for the Intel Atom Developer Program, noted in his blog:
[T]here's been a growing community of open source developers that do not have a good distribution model to consumers. There has been SourceForge, and I used it all the time, but it's not a consumer experience. Many consumer netbook users are [not] privy to it or would even know how to get their apps properly installed.
With the AppUp Center Beta Moblin v2.1 client we now have a way of connecting Linux developers with a consumer audience and it's a big audience. Last year it was estimated there were nearly 40 million netbooks sold in 2009.
Intel also plans to offer a MeeGo SDK for apps running on Atom processors, as well as support later this year for Java, Microsoft's Silverlight and Adobe AIR runtimes. MeeGo is an open source Linux project that combines Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo. Biddle declined to comment on timeframes for the final launch of the AppUp Center or additional technology support for smartphones and other mobile Internet devices.
One in five wireless app developers are building netbook apps, according to Evans Data Corp research released in August 2009. That number is expected to increase 24 percent year-over-year, with twice as much activity expected in Asian markets.
"If you are coming at it from a laptop or PC-centric universe, the netbook is the least powerful device that you have ever written to," said Biddle. "But if you are an iPhone developer, it's an embarrassment of riches. It has a massively faster processor; it's got two cores and it multitasks. It's got more memory; it's got a bigger screen and it's got a keyboard."
In February, Intel announced an Intel Atom Developer Program Million Dollar Development Fund aimed at software companies as well as smaller dev teams and individuals. The fund will support numerous development efforts, including Fast Track 2010, Dollars for Downloads, and Intel Atom Developer Challenge 2010.
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