The Google Chrome Web Store, an open marketplace for Web applications set to launch sometime this year within Google's Chrome Web browser, has been delayed. Originally believed to be launching this month, a new report finds that the store is not going to arrive until later this year - the week of December 6th, to be precise.

According to a new report from Peter Kafka at MediaMemo, developers he's spoken to are now expecting the store to go into beta in December. However, a few developers are still optimistically hoping for a mid-November launch, he said. As far as the official word from Google, the company says the store will launch "sometime this year," and is therefore, still on track.

This news is the latest in a line of launch delays for the Web store, reports Kafka. In August, Techradar announced a planned October launch for the app store alongside the launch of Chrome OS, the new Web-based operating system from Google where all apps run in its Chrome browser. The following month, TechCrunch confirmed this earlier news, saying the store "seems to be fully functional" and that we should look for it to launch "in the next few weeks."

Those few weeks have now come and gone, of course, and the Web store has still not made its debut.

App Stores Exploding

In the time since, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced an alternative to Google's Web apps - "Mac apps." The company is launching its own "Mac App Store," based on the same successful business model of its iTunes App Store. The store will be pre-installed in the next version of the Mac operating system, code-named "Lion," but will arrive earlier than that to current Mac OS X users on "Snow Leopard." Users will see the store within 90 days, Jobs said on October 20th.

Mozilla countered both Google and Apple's strategy with the launch of its "Open Web App Store" prototype, around the same time. Mozilla's value proposition is that its Web App Store will be open and decentralized. However, Google's pending Web App Store will allow the entry of any Web apps built using modern Web standards - apps that work on any browser supporting those standards, including Firefox. This has led to some confusion about just how different (i.e. "more open") Mozilla's effort will be.

As it turns out, what may be the biggest difference between Mozilla and Google's initiatives is the amount of money floating around. According to Kafta's sources, Google has been offering not just "substantial technical resources" to entice developers to build apps for its store, but also money. "I know that some small developers have received cash, as well-one developer I talked to cashed a $15,000 check-to persuade them to build apps," he said.

Mozilla, a non-profit organization, doesn't have billions at its disposal like Google does, which will give Google an edge in this game.

It's Not Mozilla vs. Google, It's Apple vs. Google

However, the real battle between desktop app stores may not end up being between Mozilla and Google, though, but between Apple and Google.

The two companies went from being allies against shared enemy Microsoft (Google CEO Eric Schmidt even sat on Apple's board until August, 2009), to competitors as Google entered a number of markets where Apple competed, including mobile (with Google Android) and operating systems (with Chrome OS).

Now each will try to sell end users on their own take regarding the future of desktop computing: will you search and purchase applications for your Mac from Apple's store or will you forgo desktop apps in favor of those from Google that run in the browser?

Consumers won't have to make any "all-or-nothing" decisions just yet - you can easily do both for now, and likely for many months going forward. For years, even. But as Apple lightens the load on its MacBook computers by switching over to small amounts of flash memory in place of traditional hard disks or solid state drives such as it did in its newest MacBook Airs, it's clear even Apple is sold on the idea that heavy, high-capacity hard drives are becoming a thing of the past. Hard drives where you download, install and run apps from, that is.