Google Eyes Apps Store To Take On Microsoft, IBM

Google software

The motives behind Google offering a store around its Apps offerings is two-fold: First, it would likely increase adoption of Google Apps, and second, it would act as a differentiator between Google and its two chief business productivity application rivals, Microsoft and IBM, both of which offer hosted versions of their collaboration and communications applications in the cloud.

The store could launch as soon as March, according to a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday quoting sources briefed on the Google App Store plan.

Google, however, is remaining tight lipped on its Google Apps Store plan. Instead, Google pointed to its Google Solutions Marketplace, a Web storefront that links customers to vendors that create solutions that integrate and extend Google's communication, collaboration and enterprise search products. Google quietly launched the Solutions Marketplace in April 2008. The Solutions Marketplace links Google Apps users to a host of add-ons, tools and support services.

"The Google Solutions Marketplace makes it easy for our customers to connect with an ecosystem of products and professional services," a Google spokesperson told on Tuesday. "We're constantly working with our partners to deliver more solutions to businesses, but we have nothing to announce at this time."

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According to the WSJ report, however, a Google Apps Store could be either an extension of or a retooling of the Solutions Marketplace that will let third-party developers sell software that ties into the Google Apps suite of SaaS-based applications like Gmail, Google Docs, calendars, spreadsheets and others.

An application store for Google Apps would let users access applications through menus contained in Gmail or Docs

Like the application store model popularized by Apple and its iTunes-based App Store for the Apple iPhone, a Google Apps Store would let developers make and sell applications and Google would split the profits with the developers.

A Google Apps market could also take a similar approach as's platform, which lets outside developers create add-ons that integrate into and are hosted in Salesforce's cloud infrastructure; or's AppExchange platform, a directory of applications that third-party developers build for Salesforce that users can purchase and add to their Salesforce solutions.

According to recent estimates, Google Apps has roughly 20 million users.

While Google has a strong following in the cloud-based productivity application space, it competes against market leaders Microsoft, which offers its Business Productivity Online Suite, a segment of Microsoft Online Services that offers its enterprise-class communications and collaboration software like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Microsoft Office Live Meeting; and IBM with its LotusLive portfolio that puts Lots collaboration and communications application into the cloud.