Google opens marketplace for cloud apps

Google Apps Marketplace continues push into the enterprise with help from third-party vendors

In another move to work its way into the enterprise , Google has unveiled an online store where users can buy cloud-based applications designed to work with Google's own apps.

The Google Apps Marketplace goes live tonight with 50 applications available from third-party vendors, said Chris Vander Mey, a senior product manager for Google.

He also noted that the company is celebrating a recently hit milestone -- 25 million users and 2 million businesses that now are using Google Apps, like its popular Gmail e-mail service and its Google Calendar application.

"What we found as we talked to these customers is that they asked for more apps," said Vander Mey. "They want a specific app for a specific vertical... We want to help them but one of the challenges has been that as you get more apps, there's more hassle. These apps don't naturally work together. They have to share data and they don't do it natively."

However, he added that the cloud-based applications being sold in the new marketplace are specifically designed to work with Google's own applications, which should take a lot of the hassle out of the integration.

That is a good move for a company that has been trying to move from a consumer-oriented road to a more enterprise course. For months now, Google has been trying to push its applications into the enterprise .

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said this new move is a smart one. "This move not only raises the profile of Google apps for business and individual users alike, it also plays on the so-called app mania that has propelled platforms like the iPhone and other devices into prominence," Olds said.

"With their own app store, Google provides a store front where developers can display and sell their wares to a large audience. With a lot of developer interest, there's a chance that someone will put together a must-have app that is useful, or fun, enough to capture the imagination of users, which will convert more of them to Google's platform," he said.

Vander Mey noted that partners are going to be key to growing Google 's business in the enterprise. "These third-party vendors expand our breadth of being able to help enterprises run their businesses in the cloud," he said. "If you need payroll or accounting or image management, you can go to our partners. We will help each other grow a rich ecosystem."

Third-party developers that are selling their applications on Google Apps Marketplace include Intuit Inc.'s online payroll application, Manymoon's project management application, and Mailchimp's e-mail newsletter management application.

David Glazer, an engineering director with Google, noted that the company will get 20% of the revenue from all sales on the marketplace site.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld . Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

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