Google opens Apps store

Google has opened an Apps Marketplace, its most aggressive move yet in selling cloud-based business applications and competing with the likes of Salesforce.com.

The move is being billed as a new channel for developers to reach enterprise customers and for customers to find apps that can be added to their existing Google account about as easily as adding Farmville to Facebook.

Google will take a recurring 20 per cent cut on any subscription sales, a rare venture into potentially lucrative non-search revenue streams for the company. A Google Checkout payment option will arrive soon, the company said.

Dozens of companies have already signed up to the marketplace; names such as Intuit and Concur Technologies are joined by some lesser-known vendors.

"Once installed to a company's domain, these third-party applications work like native Google applications," blogged product manager Chris Vander Mey. "With administrator approval, they may interact with calendar, email, document and/or contact data to increase productivity."

Applications need to support OpenID for single sign-on in order to be approved, according to Google. Optionally, the software can be integrated with existing Google Apps using APIs the company has made available.