At an exclusive blogger Q&A session, Peter Biddle lifted the lid on the new Intel Atom Developer Program, which was announced here at IDF yesterday. Peter is the director of the program, which will provide a channel for developers to market applications and code for netbooks, handhelds and smart phones. Initially, the focus will be on netbooks.
Programmers have a unique opportunity to make money by selling software components to other developers, as well as applications to end users through the app store framework.
The revenue split between Intel and the developer will be 30/70, in favour of the developer. “This is about building the ecosystem and is not a business opportunity for Intel,” said Peter. “It’s extraordinarily expensive to do app validation, which we will be. Those who are already in the app store business say are you kidding me?”
The validation will be from the point of view of the user experience: the goal isn’t to discover niggly bugs, but to ensure that the application installs, runs and deinstalls as it should and that it complies with Intel’s quality guidelines. The validation will also ensure that the software does not have any malware or security issues. Beyond those measures, apps and developers will be rated publically by their customers using feedback mechanisms similar to those on Ebay. Developers with a trustworthy reputation in the community and who have developed strong apps in the past will be able to jump the validation queue.
The program also enables programmers to sell code to other developers. Following analysis by Intel’s Chief Economist and a team of six, the revenue model for code components will be revenue share because fixed pricing could distort the ultimate app price. Under the revenue share model, a developer could create a user interface component, for example, and make it available for use in applications in exchange for 5% of the revenue from those app sales. Developers can specify that their code cannot be incorporated into free apps, and it’s possible for developers to negotiate directly with each other to change the revenue split on a per-app basis. A developer might decide to accept a lower revenue share, for example, from a developer with a track record in creating multimillion-sellers.
Developers can download and try any code components for free, so the risk is minimal. If any components do not deliver on their promise, then that can be fed back to the community using reviews and ratings. “The reputation model creates a sense of value as well as a sense of liability,” said Peter. “Developers need to know that they are responsible. Our experience with ratings and reviews in the Intel Black Belt Program will translate directly into the app store.”
Code components will be distributed as binaries only without source code, unless the code is open source, to prevent piracy of code. The app store will automatically recognise where third-party components have been incorporated into a new app posted for sale and Intel’s back end will take control of ensuring revenues are collected and shared appropriately.
The end user buying experience was likened to that on Facebook, with users able to see who else is using particular applications and what they thought of them. The digital rights management was described as ‘lightweight licensing enforcement’, with a focus on checking the application has been licensed to the user, rather than to any specific device. The social media features in the store will encourage users to keep their username and password confidential, because they will derive benefit from seeing how their friends are using apps and enabling their friends to see their own use. The store model is more like Facebook and Xbox 360 than iTunes.
The backend development was described as ‘extraordinarily far along’, following 82 days of development using a team and code drawn from across Intel. Further announcements will be made regarding launch timescales in the future.
Membership of the program usually costs $99 per year, but is available for free for a limited time now. Sign up here.