Commentary

What Google Apps Marketplace Means To Cloud Computing

Google Apps Marketplace

Encouraging businesses to embrace cloud computing, Google unveiled an enterprise apps marketplace late Tuesday. The long awaited Google Apps Marketplace will allow third-party application developers to build, upload and sell apps in the store. Google will charge a one-time $100 fee for as many applications the company chooses to post, give away or sell. If the developer chooses to sell the app, Google gets 20% of the revenue.

Intuit, Zoho and SurveyMonkey are among the more than 50 companies with apps now in the Marketplace. Raju Vegesna, Zoho evangelist, says the company initially launched two applications -- Zoho CRM and Zoho Projects -- Tuesday, but plans to release another five or six within the next month or two. The apps were sold in Solutions Marketplace, Google's previous apps store, but the new model offers tighter integration. The Google Apps Marketplace enables third-party cloud-based applications to integrate with Google apps and share data across a variety of APIs with one sign-on. Google will authenticate the apps using OpenID, secure through oAuth, and make them available through a universal Google Apps search and navigation platform.

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Allow me to call your attention to the important word "integrate" in the description above. Third-party applications share and integrate data with Google Docs, removing the barrier of silos and locking the company whose app it is into Google enterprise applications. Not a bad thing, but it's a strategy Microsoft deployed early on.

I ask Vegesna about the psychological influence this integration has on business users, and he tells me Google's new model eliminates multiple log-ins, which can create a psychological barrier to adopting applications. Google has also eliminated navigational and data integration barriers, he tells me. The user can toggle between applications on tabs. "Why do you need more than one calendar to manage when you can integrate Google Calendar data with Zoho Calendar data?" he says.

Tie this marketplace to Google's high-speed fiber network project and you can easily see how technology continues to integrate old idea with new, where PCs and mobile handsets will provide the (semi-dumb) device that connects you with the brains (software in the cloud).

Google's cloud focus is an acknowledgment that this new platform is an evolution from hardware to applications, according to Daina Middleton, president at Performics..

Didit Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lee says revenue from specific apps is "wonderful, but it looks like Google's main goal isn't just to earn money through a store." He agrees with me that the marketplace aims to encourage third-party developers to advance Google's long-term computing goal to become the leading cloud operating systems provider.

Obviously, inviting developers to join in the store aligns closely with that goal. "It's a close cousin of what Apple did with i-universe apps via its hardware," he says. That means becoming a "known home for app creators and app consumers, and the environment you've provided -- be it iPhones or a cloud OS -- achieves the position of market leader."

Going back to my conversation with Vegesna to close out this post, he tells me app sales from the marketplace are qualified leads. Google's millions of users already know online applications in the clouds are the future. It becomes a much easier sale, compared with traditional applications models for the PC and mobile.

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