Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Cloud Application Marketplace

Recently there has been a renewed interested in Cloud Application Marketplaces. This is a repost Originally Posted Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cloud computing isn't a management model so much as a software delivery paradigm. What Apple has done with its App Store is show the world that the key to monetizing the cloud is in the delivery of the key applications and assets (music, video, ringtones) through a simple and accessible channel.

With the series of recent announcements from a variety of mobile providers an exciting and potentially lucrative area in cloud computing appears to be emerging. In recently Microsoft, Google and T-mobile and others have all announced efforts to create what I am calling "cloud marketspaces" for the delivery of mobile software using a similar model to that of Apple's iPhone App Store. If successful, these new cloud marketspaces may signify a disruption to the traditional delivery of software.

According to an article in business week the opportunities for mobile application marketplace could be potentially tremendous. Since the App Store debut, users of Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch have downloaded more than 60 million applications, sampling the more than 3,000 games, calendars, and productivity applications for as much as $10 - $20 each. A good portion of these applications are available at no charge and are monetized via advertising (twitterriffic is a great example). Most of the applications available are provided via a burgeoning ecosystem of third party developers. What's more the iPhone app sales averaged $1 million a day in the first month with Apple taking 30% of each sale. In a matter of weeks, the iPhone App store has created a half billion dollar marketplace which by the end of the year could be much larger.

The article goes on to say, "In the coming six months, at least four would-be rivals of Apple will probably open their own online bazaars where developers of all stripes will sell downloadable software applications to make cell phones more fun and useful." Just about every major phone manufacturer and mobile provider will be forced to have something kind of app store in the works in the near future.

A recent job posting by Microsoft stated there may be future opportunities in the cloud application delivery space in their Windows Mobile division. They're tentatively calling this initiative "Skymarket". It was revealed in a job listing Microsoft posted earlier this month for a Senior Product Manager to oversee a marketplace service for Windows Mobile. The rumor is that the mobile applications marketplace may launch in tandem with the next version of Microsoft's cell-phone software, Windows Mobile 7, expected in 2009.

What I find more interesting is the potential for this type of cloud application delivery in the more traditional areas of technology such as consumer electronics. One such example is Intel's new CE platform which includes a Widget Channel, a software framework designed to help web developers, content providers and advertisers a quick and easy way to bring internet "cloud" services to TV devices. This platform will effectively allow consumers using Intel's embedded platform to download additional applications and content right on their TV or DVD with one click.

Another potentially large segment may be in the traditional desktop space. As we continue to transition away from desktop centric delivery to that of a cloud centric application models, the fight for the desktop will start to become the fight for the delivery of hybrid applications that make use of both local and remote resources. This could be a major reason why Google has entered the browser wars with Chrome or Dell with their mini 9 laptop. Both appear to understand that those who control the application experience own the customer experience.

At Enomaly we have also been busy working on a Service provider centric Cloud App Cener of our own. Through the App Center, a service provider can publish pre-built cloud applications directly to customers, either for free or with an additional cost. Customers can directly provision VMs on the cloud from a library of pre-existing virtual application images. Customers can also package their existing VMs and upload to them to the cloud. What it is becoming increasingly clear is the delivery of functional cloud applications will be a key aspect in any cloud providers toolset. In developing the Enomaly Service Provider Edition, we understood that no longer can a cloud provider be a "walled garden" driven by a single company. Instead we choose to foster our ecosystem of customers, partners and even competitors that all have a vested interest in the success of our platform and more importantly all who utilize it. The App Store has become the new software channel and the key to tapping into this channel are the cloud enablers and providers.

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