Awesome is not a word I use often but when I saw Zoho Marketplace, the sound of my jaw hitting the desk was audible in the next street. What better way to get its collection of services working as the hub for other services that might build from Zoho products? Larry Dignan offered this critique:
The bigger question is whether Zoho’s Marketplace can attract more developers to its ecosystem. Salesforce.com’s AppExchange has been a critical cog to its development and strategy. Zoho could do the same. For now, Zoho says its market “is not big enough for vendors to make a living and not small enough to ignore.”
It's a good point. The way I'm hearing it, Salesforce.com's marketplace hasn't been super successful for the developer community. Zoho might prove different. It is appealing to a much broader swathe of customers than Salesforce.com which increasingly is trying to go up the enterprise foodchain. Zoho firmly positions itself as an SMB player so potentially has a huge global audience. Larger companies that develop solutions based around Zoho might choose to use the marketplace as a way of sharing what they have learned. If that happens then goodness gets spread around to much broader audiences. However, Zoho Marketplace still has to find its way in the world and if companies don't 'get' the value of what Zoho is offering then it will have failed.
In the meantime, my colleague Craig Cmehil also thinks it's awesome, describing Zoho Creator - the place where you can develop apps for Zoho and the foundation for the marketplace as:
For quite awhile I guess you could call me a "ZC Pusher", it was like the little kid selling lemonade outside of their house for 5 cents or something like that. Zoho Creator captured my attention and on many levels still holds it fast. What started as me pushing for a roadmap, turned into a relationship with the Zoho folks that has been simply awesome over the years. They are responsive and interactive so it made it easy working with them.
In closing, Zoho never ceases to amaze me with its speed to market, its inventiveness and downright utility. It makes you wonder why the Microsoft's of this world appear like lumbering elephants in all senses of the word.