Intel has unveiled an online application store offering software to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). The site is intended to serve as a trusted source for applications at discount rates, as well as offering relevant advice.
The Intel Business Exchange will serve two purposes, according to the chip maker. It will act as a convenient single point for SMBs to acquire the software they need to run their business, and as a showcase for smaller software firms to bring business applications to market.
"Smaller software vendors have enough money to develop a product, but when it comes to marketing, they often lack the cash to do this effectively," said Wolfgang Petersen, Intel's director of developer relations in EMEA.
Intel's decision to open the store is based on its own research, which found that smaller companies experience difficulties choosing the right software, and that there is a lack of free and independent guidance. The site will therefore include advice from independent experts, background information on the available products, and reviews and feedback from users.
Intel will provide links to the portal from its own web site, and Petersen admitted that many of the applications available will be optimised to run on Intel's processors.
An Intel Business Exchange portal already exists in the US, but is now being opened in other countries, starting with the UK, France and Germany.
Customers will be able to purchase applications through the portal at a competitive price amounting to a 10 per cent discount, according to Petersen. As a special launch incentive, customers can get an additional 10 per cent discount on applications until 30 June.
About 160 titles are already available from the store, covering a range of categories from office applications to finance and accounts, backup and even development tools.
However, few of the current applications are from big name vendors. Buyers hoping to pick up a discount copy of Microsoft's Office suite, for example, will be disappointed.
"Microsoft's problem is that it doesn't have many downloadable products available, and it mostly relies on traditional sales channels," explained Petersen.
He hinted that this situation may change in the future, adding that products such as Symantec's security software are already available from the US store, and the same is likely to happen in other territories.
"We need to have a good mix from smaller independent software vendors and mainstream vendors, because many businesses prefer to buy from a name they trust," Petersen said.
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