They completely missed kagi, which was ubiquitous if you bought Mac software in the 90s.
I think the article only sniffed at the most interesting truth, which is that these wildly successful “app stores” only become dominant on walled garden platforms. XBox, Android, iPhone. (Android’s wall isn’t as tight, but it’s tight enough that you get your software from the play store unless you’re a nerd or you bought an Amazon branded phone, at least in the USA.) The Mac app store, even though it’s almost identical to the iThing store, is still just one of many places to get software for Macs.
The WebOS store came after the Apple one, but it had a very interesting model: they provided a back-end service but let you (optionally) provide your own store front. If you wanted to allow people to buy your app from your web site, but didn’t want to handle all of the payment and content delivery infrastructure, the WebOS store could do that for you.
That sounds like a good twist. I never got to do more than demo WebOS. Were applications generally delivered to devices only via the store, or were other channels common? Was the store’s cut different for sales that came from a developer’s website than from sales that came through the WebOS store?
I don’t remember much of the details - someone demoed this model to me at the ESUG meeting in Edinburgh. I got my TouchPad via the programme HP introduced to encourage open source development where they gave something like a 70% discount. They killed the entire product line about a week after mine arrived, so I used it as a web browser tablet for a bit but the only development I did on it was to port the GNUstep ObjC runtime to Arm using it.
It looks as if some folks got Android 9 working on it a couple of years back. I’d love to resurrect mine as an Android tablet. It’s a bit slow by modern standards but fine for a bunch of low-CPU tablet use cases (e.g. a remote control for music) but the hardware is incredibly solid - I dropped mine down a flight of stairs and it took a chip out of the concrete on one bounce but still worked fine.