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NETGEAR logoNETGEAR has reintroduced its "Smart Network" developer program aimed at getting developers to help smarten up its consumer networking gear.

The program was announced in January at CES and opened for early access shortly after. NETGEAR appears to be relaunching the program and opening it for wider access with a new developer website at http://developer.netgear.com.

NETGEAR's program seems more aggressive than Cisco's Connect Cloud, which is the platform for Cisco's Linksys "Smart Wi-Fi Routers". Cisco's program got off to a rocky start when it launched in June via an automatic upgrade to EA series routers that many users didn't know was coming and that locked them out of their router's admin until they registered with Cisco.

NETGEAR Smart Network Developer Community home page

NETGEAR Smart Network Developer Community home page

NETGEAR looks like it is giving developers access to all levels of the devices that are brought into the program. They get XML based APIs for creating apps that work via a NETGEAR cloud app server. But developers can also choose to write their own user interfaces and/or host applications in their own cloud.

NETGEAR is also providing Java "bundles" for creating apps hosted inside NETGEAR routers and NASes and even providing access to drivers and native code.

Cisco's program takes a much more conservative approach, allowing developers to write apps that only interact with Linksys EA routers via web-based API calls.

Access to NETGEAR's program has three tiers: registered developers get access to the SDK; subscribed developers pay $99 so that they can collect their portion of paid apps; and finally partner status for requesting app IDs and submitting apps.

The only devices supported currently are ReadyNAS Duo V2 and NV+V2 NASes and NETGEAR's open source based WNR3500Lv2 wireless router. NETGEAR says it will add more devices "on a monthly basis, until all routers, gateways, STB, and NAS products are covered".

NETGEAR also announced that Qualcomm Atheros (QCA) and Symform have signed on as Smart Network partners. QCA will be bringing its Skifta DLNA streaming technology and Symform will be porting its bytes-or-dollars cloud backup solution. Neither, however, is currently listed in the genie+ marketplace, which is NETGEAR's app store.

NETGEAR genie+ marketplace

NETGEAR genie+ marketplace

It looks like NETGEAR has learned a lesson from Cisco's missteps and not messing with how users access their router and NAS administration. But the deep access that NETGEAR is giving to developers could raise serious security concerns from users who worry about their web traffic being monitored and/or monitized.

NETGEAR is at Oracle's JavaOne Conference this week with a booth and session to discuss the "Smart Network" program. If you can't make it to the show, you can hit the developer site to learn more and register if you like what you see.

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