Ramping up its war on Microsoft's business applications, Google has opened an online store that lets third-party developers sell on-demand software that's integrated with Google's Web services offerings.
Plans for the store, dubbed Google Apps Marketplace, were leaked to the Wall Street Journal back in February, but Google has been officially mum on the concept. On Tuesday evening, the company pulled back the curtain on a program that already includes 50 vendors.
Though the numbers are sometimes debated, Google says that its Web apps platform has more than 25 million users from 2 million businesses and universities. Open standards like OpenID and OAuth will make it easy for developers to build apps for that audience, claimed Scott McMullan, partner lead for Google Apps, in a post on the company's enterprise blog.
Google's VP of engineering, Vic Gundotra, told software developers Tuesday at an event in Mountain View, Calif., that developers will pay a one-time $100 fee to provide apps in the storefront, and Google will take 20 percent of the sales.
Among the initial roster of companies hocking their wares are Atlassian, Intuit, Concur, eFax and myERP. Intuit, for example, is selling a cloud-based payroll system for $39 per month for one employee, with the monthly cost rising by $1.50 for each additional staffer. Intuit says the software lets users run payroll and pay taxes anywhere they can log in to Google Apps, as well as access paychecks and payroll through Google Calendar. Employees can also access their paystubs through Google Apps.
Atlassian is offering a version of its JIRA Studio software development suite that is integrated with Google's Web apps as well as design and development tools. The software, which supports agile planning and project management, is available for $25 per user per month.
"Once installed to a company's domain, these third-party applications work like native Google applications," said Google Apps Marketplace product manager Chris Vander Mey in a blog announcing the store. "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."
Google is -- no surprise -- pushing the cloud angle heavily. "We've found that when businesses begin to experience the benefits of cloud computing, they want more," said Vender Mey, adding that the new storefront will offer a much wider range of business applications than Google would ever have attempted to offer.
And, he said, "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."Will the storefront help Google continue to chip away at Microsoft's hold on the enterprise market? Let's put it this way: It certainly won't hurt. And it's an approach that has served Salesforce.com well.