Zoho is expanding beyond its broad range of business applications today with the launch of the Zoho Marketplace, where developers can sell the apps they build using Zoho’s Creator tool. The launch, which was announced last week, is a sign that Zoho is serious about enlisting developer support — you have a lot more incentive to build an app if there’s a centralized location where you can sell it.
The obvious rival is Salesforce.com‘s AppExchange, which offers apps built around Salesforce’s customer relationship management (CRM) software. The AppExchange has been successful enough that there are companies like Appirio making the exchange the main focus of their business. Google also offers a “solutions marketplace” for products that build on Google Apps.
Zoho, however, has the potential to create a richer, more useful market by selling any app built with Zoho Creator, not just apps that enrich its existing tools. The company says Creator is so easy to use that applications can be built for a specific, one-time purpose in a matter of minutes. Developers and users can negotiate prices, and Zoho doesn’t take a commission on sales. In fact, no extra fees are required to post to the marketplace — the company just charges its normal fees for Zoho Creator. Users can also request a certain type of app, and developers can bid to create it.
The Pleasanton, Calif. company, owned by AdventNet, says 100,000 applications have already been built with Zoho Creator. That should get the market off to a healthy start. Here’s a fun video (well, fun for a corporate demo, at least) introducing the marketplace.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3BhPJMIngA&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&fs=1%5D