News Analysis: Neither Google nor Salesforce.com will acknowledge any friction, but some industry watchers wonder whether Salesforce.com might be secretly chafing at the launch of Google's Apps Marketplace March 9.
Google Apps customers, which include 2 million business and 25 million active users, can purchase project management apps from Atlassian and Manymoon or billing and accounting software Intuit, among other services. This will provide third-party software developers with a larger cloud computing channel into which to sell their applications.
This store, which trades entirely in Web-based or cloud computing applications, follows in the footsteps of Salesforce.com's successful AppExchange cloud computing store.
There are clearly key differences, the most obvious of which is that, at more than 4 years old, AppExchange is far ahead of the Marketplace. Google's Marketplace launched with 50 partners, while AppExchange touts hundreds of partner applications.
While Marketplace features collaboration software as the base, Salesforce.com's anchor for apps is a CRM application to help salespeople close deals.
Yet Marketplace and AppExchange both sell similar offerings, including apps for project management and finance. There is overlap in services and similarities in the SAAS method with which they are provided. That sounds a lot like competition to analysts such as Forrester Research's Ted Schadler.
Schadler said that Google sees the opportunity to add a great layer of integration to help expand the Google Apps ecosystem, where many independent apps may be stitched together to prop up Google Apps. "It's a play for share and momentum against Salesforce.com."
"[Google Apps Marketplace] is a marketplace for any cloud-hosted application. So it's an integration hub as well as a marketplace. That puts it in a different place from AppExchange," Schadler said. "It starts with e-mail, not CRM, as the anchor. That's much more interesting because everybody uses e-mail."
CRM is a specialty app, albeit a lucrative one.
IDC analyst Melissa Webster said she isn't sure whether Salesforce.com was invited to join the Google's Apps Marketplace, which includes Salesforce.com rivals NetSuite and SuccessFactors.
"My sense is that Salesforce.com was not in there courting Google, and Google had plenty of other takers and doesn't really care," Webster told eWEEK.