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Five talking points: Open AI’s plan to launch an app store for AI models

ChatGPT-maker OpenAI is planning to launch an app store that will allow developers to sell AI models built on top of OpenAI’s technologies. What all could this entail?

ChatGPT-maker OpenAI is planning to launch an app store that will allow developers to sell AI models built on top of OpenAI’s technologies, Reuters noted June 20, based on a report by The Information. Many companies already tailor OpenAI’s models to their own needs and specific use cases. The same models can be offered to other businesses through the proposed app marketplace, the report stated.

  1. Can it revolutionize AI like the App Store revolutionized smartphones? When the iPhone first launched in 2007, it came only with a few built-in apps. What truly revolutionized the iPhone, and smartphones as a result, was the launch of the App Store a year later. The App Store made it possible for developers to create apps for various use cases and put them in one place, where they were only a click away from users. Now we have millions of apps that do things that we might not have imagined sixteen years ago when the iPhone launched. Can OpenAI’s app store do the same for AI models by making them easily discoverable for users?
  2. Could this be another significant revenue source for OpenAI? OpenAI currently has two major revenue sources. One is the $20 dollar/month ChatGPT Plus offering, and the other is access to its APIs for its various AI models. The proposed app store can become another important revenue source if OpenAI decides to charge a commission for paid purchases like Google and Apple charge on their app stores.
  3. What will the commissions be like? It will be interesting to see what percentage OpenAI decides to charge as commission, or if at all it’s going to charge a commission. Google Play and Apple App Store charge between 10 to 30 percent commission for paid app downloads and in-app purchases and both companies are being constantly criticized for this as developers feel it’s exorbitant. OpenAI might charge for app downloads but not for any in-app purchases as it doesn’t control the ecosystem like Google and Apple do.
  4. Will developers have alternatives? Another sticky point with app stores on iOS and Android is that developers don’t have any alternative but to list on the official stores if they want to reach the maximum number of users. Apple doesn’t allow third-party app stores or sideloading whereas Google allows them but warns users not to download from external sources. Will OpenAI require developers that build a model upon its technology to only list the model for sale on the OpenAI app store or will it allow developers to choose any channel of distribution? If it’s the former, it could lead to competition concerns similar to those that exist with Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
  5. How well can OpenAI moderate and support such a store? Google and Apple justify their high commissions by arguing that they’re needed to provide and support the necessary tools and software for developers to build apps and for moderating the store to keep spam, low-quality, harmful, and illegal apps away from the store. Although not perfect, both Google and Apple do a good job at providing the necessary support tools to developers and at moderating apps when compared to any third-party app stores. Will OpenAI provide similar tools and support to developers, as well as engage in moderating to keep the store safe from harmful AI models? Or will it take a more laissez-faire approach?

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