Upcoming Java App Store Could Dwarf Others: Is Oracle Behind It?

by Ostatic Staff - May. 21, 2009

Online app stores have become quite a phenomenon, in and out of the open source arena. Apple's app store made it the largest digital download retailer of all, and Microsoft has an app store in the works to challenge Apple's. The Android Market is teeming with useful applications. However, as Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz details in this blog post, Sun's upcoming App Store for Java could become the biggest app store of all. Schwartz also says this about it: "...and this time, it's all about revenue and business opportunity." Does Oracle have anything to do with this?

Sun will reveal the full details of its Java App Store plans at the upcoming JavaOne conference, starting June 2nd, in San Francisco. It's currently codenamed Project Vector, is likely to be renamed the Java Store, and Schwartz writes this about it:

"Vector is a network service to connect companies of all sizes and types to the roughly one billion Java users all over the world...How will it work? Candidate applications will be submitted via a simple web site, evaluated by Sun for safety and content, then presented under free or fee terms to the broad Java audience via our update mechanism. Over time, developers will bid for position on our storefront, and the relationships won't be exclusive (as they have been for search). As with other app stores, Sun will charge for distribution - but unlike other app stores, whose audiences are tiny, measured in the millions or tens of millions, ours will have what we estimate to be approximately a billion users. That's clearly a lot of traffic, and will position the Java App Store as having just about the world's largest audience."

You can watch a video of him discussing these plans in his post. As soon as I read the post, I was reminded that when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison announced the acquisition of Sun, he called Java "the single most important software asset we have ever acquired." Java does indeed have a huge audience. Let's put it in perspective compared to Apple's App Store.

As GigaOm noted here, about 945 million apps have been downloaded from Apple's store, which translates to about 31 applications per iPhone/iPod (there are just over 30 million iPod Touches and iPhones out there). If we accept that the potential audience for a Java app store is one billion users, it's easy to see who would have the biggest app store of all.

I'm betting that there aren't anywhere near one billion people willing to pay for Java applications, but even if Sun gets a healthy fraction of that audience to pay, the revenue could be quite meaningful. Let's not forget that many people who pay for a single app at Apple's store go on to pay for several of them. When Oracle acquired Sun, I didn't hear any talk of a Java App Store at all, but the announcement of one may have everything to do with Oracle having much greater skill at monetizing software efforts than Sun has demonstrated.