Mozilla has launched a prototype of what it calls an Open Web App Store. It's a decentralized challenge to both Apple's closed app store and Google's centralized strategy.

Open Web Apps, the organization says, are a hybrid of the web's openness and the desktop's convenience, access to hardware capabilities and more. The Store Framework will enable an unlimited number of interoperable App Stores to be hosted by anyone, and compete based on quality of user experience. The apps distributed through these stores can be free or paid and can run on any browser that supports HTML5, including mobile browsers.

Why not just bookmark your favorite web pages, including home pages for web apps? Because the App Store experience offers categorization, user ratings and the ability to sell apps. Selling access to web apps is a radical proposition, but one that Google's as-yet unlaunched Web App Store already proposed months ago. When Google announced its Web App Store at this Spring's Google I/O, reaction was mixed. HP/Palm's Dion Almaer tweeted, for example: "Chrome Web Store is interesting. What we need is the Open Web Store though." Chrome's App Store may be launching sometime soon.

Mozilla, too, has been discussing the prospect of a Web App Store for months. The company's first rumblings about the idea came this Spring, and ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez found Mozilla's implied critiques of Google's App Store strategy wanting.

Decentralization of the App Store experience across many different stores is very promising, however, if you believe that interoperability yields competition and competition yields better software.

In some ways, this framework could do to Apple and Google what Firefox did to Internet Explorer years ago - force open the market and push everyone, even incumbents, to innovate consistently on what they offer to the App user. Imagine where the web would be today if that hadn't happened. It might be as uninspired as the App Stores offered by Apple and Google are today.

Check out the video below and come back later today, we'll offer more analysis of this news as the conversation unfolds.