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Intel offers cash to netbook app store developers

Bid to boost Intel Atom ecosystem

Intel is using cash incentives to lure mobile software developers to its AppUp Center application store, hoping to spur the development of new applications for netbooks with Atom microprocessors inside.

On Monday, Intel offered a range of financial incentives to bring mobile developers to the AppUp Center, which currently works only with Windows. Incentives include payments of $500 to 250 developers between April 1 and April 14, and a bonus of $2 per download for 100 applications during the same period, up to $5,000 for free applications and $25,000 for paid applications.

The awards, which Intel is calling the Million Dollar Development Fund, are meant to spur development of mobile applications for netbooks, the term it coined for small, low-cost laptops that run on Atom processors. Additional awards for developers will be announced on March 9, the company said.

While netbooks have become popular among laptop users, there is little to differentiate them from larger laptops apart from their relatively underpowered processors, price, and smaller size. The AppUp Center is meant to change that, spurring the development of applications that will make netbooks more useful. Eventually, Intel wants to see the range of available applications expand to include other Atom-based devices, such as smartphones and handheld computers.

Intel has a lot of catching up to do if the chip maker hopes to rival other application stores.

Both Apple and Google already have well-established application stores, all designed for devices, such as the Apple iPhone and Google's Nexus One, which run on chips designed by Intel rival Arm. But while Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market have thousands of applications on offer, the AppUp Center has only 100 or so -- far from enough to be considered a credible alternative by end users.

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