The Google Apps Marketplace will let third-party developers sell their Web apps to Google Apps customers.
Exemptions from revenue sharing obligations include revenue from pre-existing customers, ad revenue, service fees for installation, consulting or support, e-commerce services that sell goods, revenue from customers who are no longer Google Apps users, tax-related charges, and revenue from customers acquired during the billing exemption period.
Web apps do not have to run on Google App Engine. Companies that wish to retain control over their applications can run them in their own data centers, so long as they can connect to Google's systems through OpenID and OAuth.
"That was a very conscious choice on our part," said Google engineering director David Glazer in a phone interview. "We think we should be providing the best tools and the best distribution for Web apps and those should not be coupled."
Google's oversight of its Apps Marketplace should be much more relaxed than Apple's management of its iTunes App Store, often criticized for its opaque and arbitrary rules.
Google does have technical compatibility requirements for the apps it sells, but its restrictions on content appear to be more permissive than Apple's. The intended audience for the Google Apps Marketplace -- business professionals -- is likely to limit the availability of cookie-cutter, soft-core apps that plague the iTunes App Store. There is a one-time $100 fee to publish listings in the Marketplace.
The Google Apps Marketplace Distribution agreement states that the company does not intend to monitor apps submitted to its store, but adds that it will remove them for intellectual property infringement, violations of the law or based on an injunction, pornography, obscenity, terms of service violations, the creation of liability for Google, malware, and ongoing user complaints.
On opening day, Google already counts more than 50 companies selling their online applications, including companies that compete with Google. On the shelves of the Google Apps Marketplace, one can find Intuit Online Payroll, Manymoon project management, Appirio's Professional Services Connect, Atlassian's JIRA Studio, and Zoho's suite of productivity and collaboration programs, among others.
"We think competition is great," said Glazer. "We believe the future is the cloud. And we're committed to the cloud for enterprises."
Raju Vegesna, evangelist for Zoho, an online productivity suite that competes in some areas with Google Apps, said in a phone interview, "We admire Google for their openness."
Zoho, he said, integrated with Google Apps on a sign-on level about six months ago. Having proceeded with ad hoc integration, he said that the company jumped at the opportunity to work more formally with Google's platform.
He said there are other Web application platforms, like Force.com, but they're not as open, because you have to build your applications on their platform. With the Google Apps Marketplace, "We can run Zoho apps in our own data center, where we have control," he said.
He believes Google will be successful because its platform is built around e-mail, which he refers to as "a commodity app." Building a platform around CRM, he suggests, doesn't make as much sense because not everyone uses CRM software.
Melissa Webster, program VP of content and digital media technologies at research consultancy IDC, sees Google's alliances shifting. She observes that Salesforce.com, a Google partner in years past, is conspicuously absent from the Google Apps Marketplace while Salesforce rivals NetSuite and SuccessFactors are featured prominently.
She also sees the App Marketplace appealing to developers.
"Google Apps have enough adoption at this point that the customer base is interesting for developers," she said in an e-mail. "I think it's interesting too how Google is pricing: The mobile apps stores give developers just 70% of the take, whereas Google's giving them 80%, so from an incentive perspective, the plan should look generous. Early adopters should have an advantage, as the catalog will be smaller and they'll have better visibility. Over time, it will become more challenging to be visible, and add-in vendors will have to do more on the marketing side to boost their popularity."
She characterizes the App Marketplace as a good move for Google at a good time.
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.