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Rich Tehrani


Google Apps Marketplace Brings Walled Garden to the Desktop

Years back TMC launched a magazine titled IMS, which stands for IP "Multimedia Subsystem," and represents an architectural model for allowing carriers to open up their networks to developers, who would in turn take a revenue split in exchange for allowing their apps to run on the carriers' networks. Customers of the service provider would be provided walled garden access to services - they would be pushed to use authorized apps.

Fast forward some years and now the app stores are owned by Apple, Nokia, RIM and others. The carriers were just too slow to implement their models, and perhaps they were the wrong class of company to be involved in the software business. But you may have noticed that these successful companies typically are in the mobile space, meaning the walled garden applies today in the wireless market.
App stores have been so successful on phones that companies are looking for ways to extend them.
Recently, Google launched an App Marketplace, which works on the desktop. Developers are able, if they choose, to add their apps to the market and best of all integrate with Google's Apps utilizing XML and a slew of other open standards such as OpenID and OAuth.
Intuit has integrated a payroll app into the Google marketplace family of solutions. What is interesting is how this app integrates with Google Calendar and, moreover, how various apps from different developers have a similar look and feel.
Two things are worth noting. The fee for developers is 20 percent of the sale price and a $100 one-time listing fee. Also, apps need approval as they do in the Apple iTunes App Store.
The threat here is obviously to Microsoft, as hosted solutions are a lot cheaper to deploy than those that reside on local servers. They also scale on-demand, and local backups and disaster recovery are less of a worry. Moreover, Apple should feel threatened as this app store can easily have superior integration with Google Android-based devices.
The walled-garden model is typically considered a bad thing, as it prevents true openness. But in Google's case, the new ecosystem will allow cheaper solutions to hit the market. Moreover, the data integration challenges plaguing customers and making integration houses rich will potentially evaporate in the future. So on balance, I consider this development to be incredibly good for customers. I hate the idea of anyone approving applications - I consider it the electronic equivalent of burning books. But I am able to understand why Google and Apple like the ability to protect their brands by allowing only certain apps to be associated with their products.

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