Sun Borrows Idea from Apple’s App Store, Unveils Java Store
June 9, 2009 Alex Woodie
Sun Microsystems took a bite out of Apple‘s playbook last week when it unveiled the Java Store, a new online repository for Java applications that looks suspiciously like the Apple App Store, the über hip outlet where you can buy programs for your iPhone. It’s still in beta, but is expected to go live later this year.
The hype surrounding the iPhone’s launch two years ago was thick enough to cut with a knife. Critics were right when they said that, while the device was super cool and undeniably awesome, it didn’t include any technology that was necessarily “new” new, by the strictest definition of the term. Yes, you could hold a conversation with somebody a thousand miles away, but Alexander Graham Bell was doing that 100 years ago. Sure, the touch screen display and the use of finger gestures to navigate the system were pretty neat, but they had already been used elsewhere. It might have included an accelerometer, but that technology has been used to protect hard disks in notebook computers for a long time.
What critics may have overlooked in their dissection of the iPhone was the overall sleekness and usability that Apple brought in putting everything together. And the App Store is a key part of that. Instead of a confusing array of CAB files and other installation methods that face users of Windows Mobile devices, downloading and installing new applications for the iPhone is as simple as making a few clicks on the App Store (which is, unfortunately, only accessible through iTunes).
The Apple App Store has been one of the most successful aspects of the iPhone program. By one estimate, there are more than 25,000 applications available on the App Store. Apple runs television ads espousing the huge variety of applications available through its store, including some business applications, such as order entry programs.
With server virtualization and software as a service (SaaS) making its way into the business IT sector, it was only a matter of time before Apple’s successful approach for streamlining consumption of programs in the consumer market was emulated by somebody in the business side of the IT house. The Sun Store could be the first such attempt.
Sun hopes its new Java Store will make it as easy to install Java applications as the Apple Store makes it to install iPhone applications. The company envisions allowing users to browse huge collections of Java-based productivity, business, social networking, and entertainment programs. Downloading and installing the software will be handled through a few clicks of the mouse.
And as the Apple Store is loved by developers–some of whom have become very wealthy following the launch of an iPhone app that does well–Sun hopes the Java Store attracts Java developers.
“Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small software startup, your primary need is the ability to reach customers,” Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing at Sun, says in a press release. “We’re building new business opportunities and are thrilled to launch the Java Store to connect developers with hundreds of millions of Java users. The Java Store will become the destination for the most interesting, useful and entertaining Java software and content.”
The Java Store was written in JavaFX, and will be delivered to end users via the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). Sun is now accepting applications written in Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) and JavaFX for the Java Warehouse, which is a kind of distribution center for applications that eventually make it into the Java Store.
You can’t browse the Java Store unless you’re accepted into Sun’s limited private beta program. But Sun expects the Java Store to be generally available later this year. To apply for the beta, see www.java.com/en/store.