How many app stores are too many?

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Intel (INTC) has announced it will create an app store for its Atom chip, the processor used to power small netbooks. Paul Otellini, Intel's CEO, told developers at an annual corporate gathering that it already has support from Dell (DELL) and several Asia-based PC companies to launch the project.

According to a Financial Times report on the conference, Otellini "said he expected consumers to buy apps to personalize their netbooks and said the concept would be extended to desktop PCs and to smaller devices."

Of course, a number of portable device companies, with Apple (AAPL) in the lead, have app stores to support broader use of their devices. App stores are multiplying like rabbits. Whether consumers will spend what could be large sums of money to download software for their PCs, TVs, handhelds, and whatever other consumer electronics devices they own is open to question.

The biggest challenge to app stores may be that there is a finite number of software developers with the backgrounds and expertise to create apps for all these devices. No one knows what that number is, but at some point the universe of code writers will become exhausted.

Intel may not be launching the last successful app store, if it is indeed successful. But once there are scores and scores of these projects finding new apps, built by experts, success will be more and more difficult.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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