Google to Launch Chrome Web Store

Google said it plans later this year to launch the Chrome Web Store, the online equivalent of Apple’s App Store. Sports Illustrated has signed on as one of Google’s charter partners, and at present is the only publisher involved in the new venture.

According to Google executives, who presented details of the project during the company’s developer conference yesterday, the Chrome Web Store will provide a central hub for users looking to discover applications and for developers to distribute them. The thinking is that 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 combine the strengths of Web and print. It 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 Chrome-tailored SI looks more a digital magazine than “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 online.