Application stores have exclusively been virtual places for you to download new programs to your mobile devices and computers. But now, at least one has gone brick-and-mortar.
A new company, Openspace, has opened its first store, providing customers a place to visit, tell staff (called "App Gurus") what they're looking for in a mobile application, and then get assistance in downloading the right programs to their devices.
"If your iPhone has a problem, you take it to Apple. If your Android tablet has a problem, you take it to Verizon, AT&T, or Best Buy," Openspace founder Robert Reich told All Things Digital in an interview published today. "But if you have a question about which camera app would be great for taking pictures this weekend on the slopes, where can you turn?"
The concept is interesting, but it doesn't appear to come with a ready-made business model. That said, Reich told All Things Digital that he plans to partner with third-party developers that want to get their applications noticed. All revenue generated through his store will be shared with developers, he says.
It might be a difficult sell. Just by bringing applications to Apple's App Store, for example, developers selling paid programs will only receive 70 percent of the revenue generated from downloads. To then share more cash with Openspace might not be so appealing.
There's also the issue of Openspace seemingly competing against itself. The company's Web site enables users to find applications based on a specific interest, like "Super Hero Apps" and "All Music All the Time." In order to access those collections, users need only to log in via Facebook.
Still, if you live in or around Boulder, Colo., and want to see what a real-life app store looks like, Openspace is the place for you. And be sure to get there soon--I'm not so convinced that it'll be open for long.