S'pore startup eyes global Apps audience

Singapore startup expects new Google Apps Marketplace to bring in more enterprises globally, having attained high rating for its product so far.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

A Singapore startup is setting its sights on a global audience through the success of its third-party Google Apps product and Google's newly-launched enterprise apps store.

The search giant on Wednesday launched an app store for its online productivity suite, Google Apps. The store, called the Google Apps Marketplace, pools together third-party applications that have been available for Google Apps, aimed at making it easier for IT managers to discover and add new apps.

Yong Ming Guang, CEO of the Singapore startup Socialwok, said in a phone interview with ZDNet Asia that the company expects to expand its business clientele through the new marketplace. Described by its makers as "Facebook for businesses", Socialwok plugs into a company's information contained in its Google Apps implementation, to create a social network through which its employees can communicate.

Yong said Socialwok's three-man team worked with Google for about three months in preparation for the launch of the marketplace. No changes had to be made to the Socialwok interface for the integration with the app store, but he noted that the team put in an additional administrator control page, to ease the setup process for new sign-ups.

The sign-up process takes approximately 5 minutes, he said. "This is a new way for small businesses to consume software, with one click to turn [apps] on or off."

He added that Socialwok is one of a group of fewer than 10 to showcase apps for the launch. At time of writing, Socialwok was listed on the top five lists based on user ratings and downloads.

According to Yong, the app currently has an installed base of about 10,000 seats.

Issues arising from the add-ons will not be supported by Google, but by the third-party vendors, he said. This includes Google Apps data that could get corrupted during the installation process, he added.

In spite of the expected rise in traffic from the marketplace, Yong appears unfazed about the prospect of having to support a rush of new users.

"We will continue to use our existing support modes such as online help resources and videos. Users can also e-mail us directly," he said.

The marketplace is the latest effort in Google's drive to make Google Apps a contender for the office productivity market. It is pitting the product, in particular, at office productivity software stalwart, Microsoft Office.

One of Google's earlier forays into allowing third-party developers to come in and add functionality to Google Apps, was through smaller widgets. Back in 2008, it opened a online showcase for these widgets called the Google Solutions Marketplace.

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