The App Store of phones has changed the way we think about buying and selling. Ebay and Amazon definitely make us think about quick online transactions, but let’s say you built a webpart and you’re thinking… is there any good app store or marketplace to market and sell my good ideas?
I was recently talking with a vendor Agersi about a couple of their solutions.
Autocomplete lookup – a sandbox solution (no server code required) which helps for not only rich form validation, but rich contextual type ahead results which can easily be installed in an Office 365 environment or on premise. Imagine how much easier adding required codes and even how much smoother existing form validation would be if you could narrow results by typing multiple characters.
ToDo List Webpart – Provides a quick and easy way to keep track of tasks right on your site in the form of an online sticky note. The notes themselves are added into task lists, but the visuals make the reminders front and center and helps the user avoid all the unnecessary clicking for marking off completed items. Again here’s an example of an easy install that can be added as a sandbox solution with no server foot print.
So let’s take those nifty solutions, both very practical and could help out teams that are trying to make SharePoint more easily consumable, and make life easier for the users. In both cases these apps can be installed on SharePoint if sandbox solutions are enabled, or installed by the administrators. In the Office 365 SharePoint Online case, you don’t have to call up Microsoft to increase the user experience and make life easier. So what is the right way to reach that audience? Does Microsoft have an app store?
Office 365 Marketplace – The Microsoft Office 365 Marketplace helps you find innovative professional services and applications from Microsoft partners worldwide. Find experts to help you figure out how to leverage and deploy in the Cloud, tailor Microsoft Office 365 to improve productivity and build your business.
If you go out to the Office 365 Market place you’ll find large lists of categories of products. These categories are broken up by department, such as digging into specifics of SharePoint Online, the Business Need with very broad categories like Internet, E-Commerce, and Servers.
As a user none of these seem to help narrow anything down very fast, so I type webpart in the search box. I get 2 results. One for Exchange, and one for InfoPath… Oh, and I notice the default check box is for Professional services. Let’s switch that to Applications. Now I get 4 results, 3 of those have no reviews, 2 look like email management tools, and one of them actually has webpart in the title. My initial feedback… I’m a little lost. Clicking on the app I get an overview with the ability to add a review. Microsoft isn’t handling the transaction looking like for purchase I get sent to the company. What I find is that this app store is not yet mature. There are a lot of products, but it’s missing the zing. No screenshots, nothing that let’s me click to try it out, I don’t see info on how to download it
To get listed in Marketplace there are a few simple requirements:
Edited for readability. Text quoted above from Get Listed
Some feedback for Microsoft: Your categories are too high. I decide I’m looking for an app for SharePoint Online and I get dumped into nearly 400 products with no additional categories at the SharePoint level and the default is professional services, not apps. When I switch to apps I’ve lost my categorization I realize. I then click SharePoint Online again, with apps chosen and the list narrows down to 89. Those products with the most reviews float to the top. The categories aren’t relevant to most SharePoint products as for what people are looking for… just at a glance. Not sure where they came up with these. Really tough usability for finding a webpart or the autocomplete such as those I use as examples above. You’re going to do a lot of paging and search doesn’t really help us narrow it down. Products for SharePoint Online are drastically different than apps for lync and exchange online. There’s a dev story there. Apps should be default for SharePoint Online.
I’m really hoping someone who knows our market gets a hold of helping come up with better categories in the future. As is suggested on the site, you can easily get listed, and I recommend encouraging your customers to fill out reviews even if they didn’t find it on the market place. The vast majority of products have less than 3 reviews. In fact I’d say of the 89 listed, there are about 5 with more than 2 reviews.
Another place to list your app is SharePointReviews.com. They have great categories that apply to the SharePoint market, and is touted as the largest directory of SharePoint products. Listing your products is free.
SharePoint Reviews contains both a search and category based approach to finding products, reviews, articles, training, conferences and events.
You can submit a new product to SharePointReviews.com:
"To submit new product listings, please register (if you haven’t already), log in (if you haven’t already), and fill out our submission form. You can also go to a specific category and click on Add new listing to submit your listing to the category. Please keep in mind that all submissions are subject to approval. We reserve the right to edit the information in your submission or to remove your listing if it does not conform to our guidelines."
In the case of SharePoint Reviews, with our examples above, I could list the products in Business Productivity, End User Tools or Applications.
If I had just built a webpart and wanted to get the most visibility on it, I’d likely partner up with one of the more established SharePoint Vendor shops. I’d call up Bamboo, Quest, Lightning tools, Metavis and see what partnering opportunities might exist. Bamboo has a really nice shopping cart. Where else have we seen a SharePoint focused Shopping cart? I believe there are a few out there.
What other opportunities do developers and vendors have for getting the word out there? I’ve done a few reviews, webcast, and things myself. SharePointAds.com is good for click throughs and awareness. The publishers are recognized for their reach into the community. What do you think? Other opportunities that exist? Yeah, all those SharePoint Saturdays are great ways of getting in front of potential customers for the fraction of the price of the bigger events.
This post sponsored by Agersi.