Google Launches Online Marketplace For Cloud Applications

Taking a page from the strategy books of Apple's App Store and other online software marketplaces, the new Google Apps Marketplace offers cloud-based applications that integrate with Google Apps. At the time of the launch late Tuesday Google said more than 50 companies were participating.

Google Apps today includes the company's email, calendar and Google Docs document, spreadsheet and presentation applications, among others.

"We're often asked when we'll offer a wider variety of business applications " from accounting and project management to travel planning and human resources management," said product manager Chris Vander Mey in a statement. "But we certainly can't and won't do it all, and there are hundreds of business applications for which we have no particular expertise."

Vander Mey said the marketplace would help solve the problem of "siloed" cloud applications that integrate poorly -- or not at all -- with other IT systems. Third-party applications acquired through the marketplace work like native Google applications. Users can access them within Google Apps, using Google's OpenID as a single sign-on, and they can be managed through the Google Apps control panel, according to the company. And data can be shared between Google Apps and the third-party services.

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Applications available through the marketplace at the time of launch included Intuit's online payroll management system for small businesses, Manymoon's project management application, and eSignature software from EchoSign.

Other on-demand application vendors joining the rush to get their products into the marketplace included Zoho with its CRM and project management applications, Cloud Sherpas and its management tool for Google Apps, and its content management system, and NetSuite with its ERP suite for mid-size businesses.

Google is reportedly charging vendors a $100 listing fee for the marketplace and keeping 20 percent of generated sales.

Google began offering its first online applications five years ago and the company said more than 2 million businesses -- and 25 million users -- have adopted them.