Google has been giving a lot of love and attention to its Apps software suite to make it harder for businesses to resist a switch to the cloud. Today, the company is raising the stakes again by adding, well, more apps.
At a developer's event tonight, Google is unveiling details of its Apps Marketplace for Google Apps, a place for companies to "discover, buy and install" third-party business apps that can be integrated into the other apps within the suite, as well as the data in them. Initially, there are about 50 companies that have developed apps for the new marketplace - ranging from Box.net and eFax to TripIt and Intuit, which is launching an online payroll app for small businesses that allows business owners a new way to run payroll, pay taxes and allow employees to review their paystubs.
I can already see the possibilities here - the travel department integrating reservations with calendars and contact lists, project managers controlling which documents are shared and with whom. And because the app integration is managed at the company's admin level, permissions to integrate data and the controls to keep it secure is managed by the company itself.
Once installed to a company's domain, these third-party applications work like native Google applications. With administrator approval, they may interact with calendar, email, document and/or contact data to increase productivity. Administrators can manage the applications from the familiar Google Apps control panel, and employees can open them from within Google Apps. With OpenID integration, Google Apps users can access the other applications without signing in separately to each. The Google Apps Marketplace eliminates the worry about software updates, keeping track of different passwords and manual syncing and sharing of data, thereby increasing business productivity and lessening frustrations for users and IT administrators alike. That's the power of the cloud
Later this year, the company is launching a revenue-sharing model to encourage developers to submit business apps for Google Apps. Under that model, developers determine their own pricing and terms for the app, Google handles the billing for the developers and collects 20 percent of the revenue as its share.
The move also brings more life to cloud-based business apps. Salesforce, which has been integrated with Google Apps for nearly two years, has an App Exchange marketplace, as well, giving business owners even more control over efficiency.
And, of course, it raises the exposure of the cloud and the efficiency tools that it offers for business customers - something that Google execs have been touting for some time now.