Salesforce.com set the standard several years ago with the introduction of their AppExchange app store providing a central repository of third-party applications that work with their platform. Apple took the idea and made it mainstream for consumers with their App Store for iPhone and iPad programs. Now, every Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company should have an app store strategy.
Here are a few items to keep in mind:
- Curating the app store is critical; too many SaaS companies claim to have an app store only to have many apps that aren’t functional or are “pretend apps” that are really lead generation to sell custom consulting engagements
- An app store should be implemented once the startup reaches scale (e.g. 500 – 1,000+ customers) so that there’s sufficient demand from users to warrant the building and maintaining of the store
- Some vendors charge a tax (e.g. 15% of revenue from apps that connect to the platform), which should be avoided as it’s better to encourage as many integrated products as possible and not alienate potential partners
While not an app store directly, companies like Kevy will emerge as data synchronization app connectors for hundreds of cloud-based products. Regardless, every SaaS company should have an app store strategy.
What else? What are your thoughts on SaaS companies needing an app store strategy?