Here an app store, there an app store, everywhere an app store. 2011 is quickly becoming a year of app stores, with each browser offering its own marketplace of Web apps. What's a multi-browser user to do in this world?
Kynetx, a cross-browser platform for browser extensions and apps, wants to give both developers and users a one-stop shop for apps that don't discriminate according to what browser you use for what task. The company has launched an app store of its own for something it's calling "browser apps."
"Browser apps," according to the company, are "cloud-based, event-driven applications for the 'Live Web' that seamlessly run in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer." Calling itself a "Greasemonkey for the cloud," Kynetx offers tools for developers to create these cross-browser apps and an app store for users to discover browser apps, regardless of which browser they are using.
The difference between something like Kynetx and a browser-specific service like Greasemonkey, explained VP of "platform evangelism" at Kynetx Brad Hintze, is that Kynetx runs entirely within a single browser extension. It also runs entirely in the cloud, meaning that the end-user never needs to worry about updating their extensions; the moment a developer uploads an update, the user sees the results.
We spoke with Hintze last week at SXSW, where he explained that the Kynetx extension saves both memory and processing power by only loading individual extensions when they are needed. This is the "event-driven" part mentioned above. Take a browser extension like my6sense for Chrome. It modifies Twitter.com to provide a personalized experience. If you look at your resource usage, however, you'll notice that it's always on, whether or not you're actively looking at the Twitter website. The same goes for all Chrome extensions. With a Kynetx "browser app," it would only become active in response to an event, such as visiting Twitter.com.
The other primary difference between Kynetx and individual browser extensions is that once a user installs the Kynetx extension for a particular browser, they have access to all the same browser apps that they would on any other browser. For both user and developer, Kynetx offers a uniform experience across browsers. Will users want to adopt another app store? If Kynetx can draw in developers with the lure of one code for multiple browsers, the users may follow.