Google to launch app service

Chrome Web Store inks Sports Illustrated as charter partner

Google said it plans later this year to launch the Chrome Web Store -- the Web's equivalent to Apple's App Store. And Sports Illustrated has signed on as one of Google's charter partners -- and only publisher -- in the new venture.

According to Google executives, who presented details on the new project during the company's developer conference -- Google I/O -- on Wednesday (May 19), the Chrome Web Store will provide a central hub both for users looking to discover Web applications and for developers to distribute them. The thinking is that up until now, unlike mobile apps, Web-based apps (such as desktop applications) have been been scattered and disorganized.

During Wednesday's presentation, Terry McDonell, editor of the Sports Illustrated Group, presented SI's entree in the Chrome Web Store -- a new digital version of the company's core magazine product which attempts to combines the strengths of the Web and print, but is designed specifically for laptops, notebooks and tablets.

For example, SI's new Chrome-version, which employs HTML5, navigates in a left-to-right, flip-through-the-pages fashion. But it also enables customization and search while offering live content, such as the latest sports scores, as well as video. SI plans to charge an unspecified fee for the app.

Overall, the new Chrome-tailored SI looks more a digital magazine than does SI.com. "What we're going for here is more content of every kind, immersive content that looks and feels like nothing on the Web," said McDonell.

However, it remains to be seen whether Internet users--particularly desktop surfers--will pay for a customized application when the majority of SI's content is available for free on the Web.
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