Last night at its Campfire One event, Google officially launched the Google Apps Marketplace. The Google Apps Marketplace offers third-party developers and services a way to integrate directly with the Google Apps platform and sell that integration at whatever price point they choose. This is a huge win for the cloud because it finally allows other cloud services to tap into some of Google’s APIs for things like Gmail and Google Docs at a much deeper level, which can benefit their own customers, as well as offering additional value to Google Apps itself.
Although the launch was yesterday, many companies and developers have been preparing for this event for quite some time and a number of very cool and useful apps are already available in the Marketplace. Here are just a few that stand out to us.
1. Zoho for Google Apps
Zoho and Google Apps actually offer a lot of the same services: hosted email, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools, wikis, chat, etc. However, that doesn’t mean that Zoho doesn’t benefit from Google Apps integration.
Plus, because Zoho also offers services that go beyond what Google Apps can do, direct integration can be a nice way for Zoho to keep customers using their product (or even make them more interested in checking it out).
Zoho has two products in the Google Apps Marketplace: Zoho CRM and Zoho Projects. Zoho CRM is free for up to three users and then $12 per month per user starting with the fourth user. Zoho Projects is free for one project and starts at $12 per month for unlimited projects.
Both tools allow users to plugin Google Apps into the Zoho CRM or Zoho Projects system.
2. Intuit Online Payroll
Intuit, makers of Quicken and Quickbooks, has an online payroll tool called Intuit Online Payroll. Intuit Online Payroll for Google Apps was one of the applications demoed at the Campfire One event yesterday and it lets users access their payroll or paychecks from anywhere in Google Apps.
For instance, paychecks can be retrieved from Google Calendar, users can print checks or E-File their taxes and run the payroll application from directly within Google Apps.
Pricing is $39 per month for one employee filing taxes in one state, each additional employee is $1.50 per month and each additional state for filing taxes is $12 per month.
Manymoon is a team collaboration application that integrates with Google Apps. Think of it as a project and task management tool.
The Manymoon app was built to deeply integrate with Google Docs, Google Calendar and Gmail. The company has also created a Google Gadget for managing and monitoring tasks.
Manymoon is free and is currently the highest rated app in the Google Apps Marketplace.
Aviary offers web-based tools for things like image editing and creation, vector graphics, and audio editing. Now Aviary can integrate into Google Apps, which lets you use Aviary to create graphics that can be used and accessed within things like Google Docs and Google Sites.
The free app lets you do all kinds of stuff, like edit images for business cards, presentation slides and labels, create scalable vector art, record and remix audio and even edit the markup from websites or slides.
This is the sort of functionality that Google doesn’t have the resources to offer, which is why it’s great that Aviary can just plug into existing Google Apps accounts!
Expensify is a service designed to make expense reporting less painful. Expensify’s Google Apps app integrates directly with Google Apps, which eliminates one more step in the expense-report creation process.
Once reports are submitted and approved, they can be exported to QuickBooks or other accounting solutions in one-step. Expensify is always free for report creation and submission and for two submitters a month, the approval process is free too. After that, approval for each individual submitter is only $5 a month.
Like Zoho, Box.net shares some features with Google Apps. Box.net has really morphed from a file storage service into a full-fledged cloud-based content management system akin to something like Microsoft SharePoint. Many of the companies that are creating apps for the Google Apps Marketplace also have apps for Box.net’s OpenBox platform.
However, while there is some overlap in terms of services offered (especially since Google Docs added file storage support in January), there is even more opportunity for users of both services.
Box.net is offering a Cloud Content Management app for Google Docs that will let you basically access and integrate your Google files directly within the Box.net ecosystem.
That means you can create a Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet as a file type within Box, which means you can then utilize the collaboration tools of both platforms. You can also access and manipulate your Box content directly from within Gmail and Google Calendar — which really makes this attractive for companies that want to look at replacing both Exchange Server and SharePoint.
Existing Box.net users can call their account manager to start the setup process of integrating the two systems and new users can sign up for a free trial of Box.net and automagically add it to Google Apps, plus get 30% off upon sign-up.
More to Come
We’re only scratching the surface in terms of what the Google Apps Marketplace can potentially offer users — as well as developers and other providers — but just looking at some of the apps and integrations that already exist, we have to say, this is exciting.
The power of the “cloud” really isn’t realized until you can see how easy it is to not just access files from various places (like on mobile phones), but also when you can easily share and integrate with other services. For small business users especially, the extensibility options offered to Google Apps via the Marketplace makes Google’s platform even more compelling.
Have you tried any of the new Google Apps apps? What do you think? Let us know!