Mozilla is taking its first step toward building an ecosystem of web apps and challenge both Google and Apple with a completely open alternative. Details are pretty sketchy at the moment but the company has announced a first developer release of its Web Apps Project along 17 demo applications, stable APIs, developer utilities and documentation to help people get a jumpstart on building Web Apps.

There isn't a lot to see yet. The demos are basically just links to other websites and don't include any particular design tweaks to make them feel more app-like. However, eventually Mozilla plans to add native browser controls, OS integration, and mobile device syncing. The video below provides a teaser of the kinds of functionality users can expect from Mozilla's Web App Store, which includes things like launching applications with a single click, enabling them to interface with certain websites, or creating widgets to get updates from your favorite sites.

Mozilla's project is a strike back at the notion that mobile and web apps should be device or platform specific and served up from walled storefronts. Therefore, as opposed to the Chrome Web Store and Apple App Store, Mozilla's approach is platform-agnostic, and will serve-up web-based apps for any device or browser that supports HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and other widely implemented open standards -- avoiding interoperability, portability and lock-in issues.