Marketplaces continue to be a popular model to allow third party developers to extended the functionality of your products (and more often than not generate some additional revenue). The most well known example is perhaps Apple’s App Store for the iPhone/ipod Touch. Earlier in the year it was reported that the App Store was responsible for 99.4% of mobile app downloads in 2009, generating Apple an estimated $4.2 billion in revenues. Part of Apple’s success in terms of income generation is the model of micro payments (i.e. it is easier to get 10 people to pay 50p than 1 person to pay £5)
Google, not wanting to miss out on this bounty and to also consolidate their position in providing enterprise solutions in the cloud, have recently announced the Google Apps Marketplace. This site allows third parties to sell/distribute products and services for Google Apps (Google’s collection of cloud based office applications – Gmail, Calendar, Docs etc). What this means is that institutions who have already signed up for Google Apps Education now have the ability to make available additional functionality to the existing Apps suite with just a few clicks.
For example, the online mind mapping tool MindMeister is already available on the Google Apps Marketplace. Administrators using Google Apps can now add Mindmeister to the list of applications available to their users enabling features like sign-on, export to Google Docs and sharing using Google contacts data. Another example is Dimdim web conferencing which if installed would allow Google Apps users to setup online meeting rooms with one click, integrating with the Google Calendar and Contacts.
Will Google Apps administrators be loading up lots of additional functionality for staff and students? Probably not as many of the additional products come at a cost, and just like the micro-payment model used in Apple’s App store the figures are reasonably small but could quickly add up. For example, whilst MindMeister has a 30 day free trial after this it is $9/user/month.