After weeks of rumors, Google (news, site) finally launched Google Apps Marketplace, their new online store for business applications that integrate with and extend Google Apps.

The launch will add an aggressive edge to their Google Apps marketing push, and will also put pressure on other cloud stores like Salesforce.com’s AppExchange and Apple’s AppStore.

The Google Apps Marketplace provides third-party software developers a channel to sell their cloud-based applications and gives Google Apps users access to business apps for many commonly used business processes as well as other services.

Extending Google Apps

Google Apps itself, which has an estimated 25 million users with 2 million business customers, includes Gmail, Google Docs word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications as well as Google Sites publishing software.

Over 50 companies have already signed up to Google’s Marketplace, which takes a 20 percent cut of application sales as well as a one-time fee of US$ 100 for any number of applications added. The Google Apps Marketplace is available to users of Google Apps Premier, Standard and Education Editions.

Many of the companies that have added apps initially will be familiar:

  • Intuit (news, site) makes its Online Payroll available
  • Atlassian (news, site) offers its hosted software development suite JIRA Studio
  • Zoho (news, site) offers two of its most popular business apps, Zoho CRM and Zoho Projects
  • Marketbright has added its on-demand marketing automation and email marketing platform
  • NetSuite (news, site ) is also on board
  • As is cloud content management provider Box.net (news, site)

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Google Marketplace:Searching for an App

Google Apps Integration

Applications listed in the Marketplace integrate with Google Apps using open protocols. Administrators can use an "Add it now" button that streamlines provisioning and data authorization steps and gives end users a link to the new app in their Google universal navigation bar. Here's how it works:

Administrators can also grant apps in the Marketplace permission to integrate with Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs and other Google Apps data.

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Google Marketplace: Administrator's screen
 

The Billing Process is a Work In Process

The billing service is not ready for release yet so customers will have to use existing billing and payment mechanisms for new apps.

According to the Google Developer blog the billing service is on the way and is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate both established developers and new start-ups.

How the division of fees between third-party developers and Google will work initially without this system in place is not clear as the new system will take responsibility for this and automatically manage the Marketplace's revenue share fees.

It will also enable users to buy directly from the Marketplace using their existing Checkout account, and will provide a unified bill for all purchases.

Is Marketplace Game-Changing?

Google already has a solutions marketplace (add-on software and support) for Google Apps users, as well as an Android Marketplace which houses apps for Android-based mobile devices. A new store for business is not only a happy addition to the family, it also makes a lot of sense.

It is also likely to cause problems for Salesforce.com (news, site) which has been building its Force.com platform for third-party developers of Salesforce add-ons, as well as its AppExchange store. Interestingly, in this respect, there is already some overlapping with Appirio, and a Salesforce.com connector from NetSuite.

Interesting times ahead.