What Is an App Store?
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Why You Should Care
Partner, SMB Group
An app store can offer a lot more than just mobile apps. Essentially, it is a website that aggregates software solutions for business or personal use. App stores, also known as applications marketplaces, are typically created and built by a “marquee” vendor, such as Adobe, Apple, Google, Salesforce.com, or Intuit. They serve as the anchor tenant for the marketplace and operate as a hub where you can discover, search for, purchase, and deploy integrated third-party applications.
App stores can help streamline the application shopping and selection process, providing a one-stop shop for finding, trying, and buying small business applications. Many feature cloud-based solutions that you can try for free and purchase in a flexible, pay-as-you go model. App stores often offer free apps as well and feature user-generated ratings and comments to help your decision-making process.
App stores can help you more easily locate new small business software that will work with apps you already use, adding them in an incremental yet integrated manner.
For instance, Intuit’s Workplace App Center provides a central location where small businesses can locate and try business applications that work with QuickBooks and with each other. You can, for example, sync your QuickBooks data to a CRM solution offered in the App Center, eliminating the need to enter the same data twice. Some app stores (e.g., Salesforce.com’s AppExchange and the Intuit Partner Platform) require developers to use a common data model, which enables tighter integration. In contrast, in Google’s more open approach, the web is the platform. Both approaches promise integrated applications, but the degree of integration varies.
In addition to supplying ready-to-run applications, some app stores help companies locate solution developers that can build custom applications that integrate with their anchor solutions. For example, Zoho’s Marketplace lets users submit requests for new apps and features.
Of course, there are also stores for mobile apps that work with different smart phones, from Apple’s App Store to Google’s Android Marketplace. In the case of smart phones, customers select marketplaces solely based on the device they use. But when it comes to running apps on your Mac or PC over a web browser, your choice of which app store to shop at isn’t device dependent—and may be a bit more complicated.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing an app store: How many applications are in the marketplace, and how fast are they growing? How simple is it to sign up, sign in, and test drive new applications? How active is the user community in providing reviews, comments, and ratings? What level of integration do you need between your existing application(s) and new applications?