Salesforce.com now has a retail operation, in the form of its new AppStore offering. Of course, there are no bargains in Benioff-land, and income-starved AppExchange partners will have to fork over a serious percent of their AppExchance revenue stream in order to pay the piper. Such is life in the big city.
What will be interesting is to see what Salesforce.com will now be able to say, or not say, about what the actual scope of the AppExchange egosystem really is. When I last checked in with Benioff about the total revenues his partners were earning from AppExchange, I got a major stiff-arm response. (Which meant I knew I had asked the right question: when Benioff got a little upset and personal in the process of not answering, it was obvious to me that this was the question he really didn't want to answer.)
So maybe now we'll be able to judge how well AppExchange is doing by getting some numbers on how well AppStore is generating revenues for Salesforce. Though that will probably be up to Benioff again: I don't think he is required to break out AppStore numbers unless he really wants to. But if he really wants to be taken seriously as a ecosystem player -- and not just be another egosystem wannabe -- this would be his golden opportunity. I for one am ready to hear some real data about how well AppExchange is doing.
Until then, AppExchange, and its little brother AppStore, are more good ideas in search of some good proof points. Salesforce.com has recently raised its revenue estimates for the current year, with Benioff obliquely claiming that "the continued momentum of our AppExchange ecosystem is creating expanded business opportunities for salesforce.com." Of course, that is a lot different than saying: ".... because our AppExchange ecosystem is bringing new revenues to the company." The devil is always in the details. We shall see what Marc is willing to reveal -- but I promise, a little data on AppExchange will go a long way. Give it a try, Marc.