Salesforce.com today announced AppExchange Store Builder, a set of tools through which organizations can build their own customizable app stores on Salesforce. Using the same tools that Salesforce used to build AppExchange, organizations can create a similar environment around a select group of applications, says Jim Sinai, senior director of AppExchange and platform marketing.
In addition to taking advantage of Salesforce dashboards to track downloads, Sinai notes that developers can also integrate a variety of payment systems that Salesforce already supports, including platforms from Chargent, Linvio and Zuora.
Developers building app stores using AppExchange Store Builder also get to take advantage of the extensive set of identity management and analytics services that Salesforce has built into AppExchange, Sinai says. In addition, any app store built using AppExchange Store Builder can choose to make use of Salesforce1 APIs, he says.
While the number of organizations interested in running their own app stores is on the rise, very few of them have the resources required to build them from the ground up.
Of course, there is no shortage of app stores these days. Apple and Google clearly dominate when it comes to being the place that most organizations gain access to applications. But a survey of 275 business and IT professionals published by Dresner Advisory Services suggests that organizations are more willing to purchase applications via other app stores. In 36 months, the survey found that about half the respondents would either like to have their own enterprise app store or be able to use a third-party enterprise app store. A big driver of that interest is having more control over what applications can be deployed inside their organizations.
In the age of the cloud, app stores have clearly supplanted traditional methods of software distribution. The good news for developers is that these app stores significantly expand their available market because they don’t have to pay someone to package and ship boxes of software. But building out the back-end services required to process those transactions is no small undertaking, and every minute spent on that activity is less time developers have to build and update software.
It remains to be seen just how many application stores will be viable. Just like in real life, people who want to go shopping tend to go to malls rather than individual stores. For developers to truly succeed when it comes to building an app store, it therefore stands to reason that they have to be able to create enough critical mass to make it worthwhile for end users to go there.