Microsoft Mum on Plans to Answer Google Apps Marketplace

Microsoft may one day counter Google Apps Marketplace with a third-party integration shop for cloud computing of its own, but if there are any such plans in the works, Microsoft won't share them as it competes in the cloud with Google, IBM, and others. IDC analyst Melissa Webster says Microsoft, which has always worked well through channels, may consider offering such a store in the future. Google Apps Marketplace Product Manager Chris Vander Mey tells eWEEK that four Marketplace partners have each logged over 1,100 domains installed.

Microsoft may one day counter Google Apps Marketplace with a third-party integration shop for cloud computing of its own, but if it does plan to, it's not saying so.

Google March 9 launched its Google Apps Marketplace, an online store selling business applications that integrate with and extend Google Apps.

For example, software maker Atlassian has written its project management application to communicate with Google Calendar, Gmail and other Google Apps, which in turn helps Atlassian's users collaborate better.

Google Apps Marketplace is the first major cloud computing shop of its kind since's launch of its AppExchange in 2006.

It's only natural to think Microsoft, with its increased attention to cloud computing, might respond in kind with a cloud computing shop of its own. eWEEK asked Microsoft if it would offer a store similar to Google Apps Marketplace.

"Microsoft doesn't have anything to say about future plans for an apps marketplace, but I'm happy to look into any other questions about the partner program that exists today," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK.

That partner program is Pinpoint, which does include some SAAS (software as a service) offerings. Microsoft also offers the Microsoft Online Services partner program, but neither of these allow integration with Microsoft applications through APIs.

However, unlike Google Apps Marketplace, these programs let third-party programmers stitch functionality from cloud offerings such as Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite into their own applications.

Despite this, IDC analyst Melissa Webster said Microsoft has always worked well through channels, avoiding a professional services arm (which drives so much profit for IBM) in favor of partnering with companies on custom implementations of its software.

"That's something they've done well, but there's a difference between listing partners on your Website and actually facilitating the trade in your partners' solutions," Webster said.

Google is charging a $100 one-time placement fee plus 20 percent on recurring software license revenues for Apps Marketplace. Developers set their own prices for the applications. Developers must bring their own billing systems for now, but Google will eventually enable application purchases from the Marketplace through its Google Checkout payment system.

"[In the] long term, you would think Microsoft would be thinking about an apps store on their own," Webster said.

Meanwhile, Google Apps Marketplace Product Manager Chris Vander Mey told eWEEK March 16 that shop's reception has been solid in its first full week of existence. Within the first 24 hours, four Marketplace partners each logged over 1,100 domains installed.

"That's a tremendous response," Vander Mey said, noting that new applications are already showing up in the marketplace. "We're extremely pleased by the reception and the adoption." Google will post more specific figures on the Marketplace soon, he said.

Analysts from Jefferies and Co. said the Google Apps Marketplace should be welcomed by SAAS application developers who'll gain distribution access to Google Apps' 2 million businesses and 25 million individual users.

"Small businesses and individual teams who want cloud-based apps may find the ability to search, discover, demo and purchase such services in a single place compelling, especially since these services will be well integrated with Google Apps," Jefferies analyst Youssef Squali wrote in a March 12 research note.