"Value" is Issue for Viable Service Provider Martketplaces

App stores have become a major and increasingly-important channel for consumer and some enterprise apps. A related approach is the inclusion of third-party apps as part of cloud -based services such as CenturyLink’s Marketplace Provider Program or the IBM Cloud Marketplace

For example, Clusterpoint, a database vendor providing Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) for enterprises and application developers, today announced its certification under the CenturyLink Cloud Marketplace Provider Program. This integration allows customers of the CenturyLink Cloud platform to launch the Clusterpoint 4.0 Computing Engine directly from the CenturyLink Cloud Knowledge Base.

Still, collaboration between app providers and service providers remains non-intuitive or easy.

Value is among the difficulties. Successful marketplaces arguably offer clear value for enterprises or consumer buyers, the app providers and service providers that benefit from greater customer retention and upsell opportunities.

But it often is difficult to identify the clear upside for each partner, and how much value buyers will perceive.

The upshot is that t is not often totally obvious how that alignment can be created. For starters, the way apps now are developed often means that no “permission” is required for any buyer to get access to any Internet app.

To the extent there is a viable and proven revenue model, it is the 70-30 revenue split between developers and app store owners, for popular app stores.

A half decade ago it might have seemed possible to create mobile service provider app stores, but that has proven unworkable, as the popular app stores are directly controlled either by device suppliers or in some cases operating system suppliers such as Google.  

And that remains one of the key questions about collaboration between app providers, device providers and service providers. In principle, getting approved for any major app store solves the “distribution” problem, if not the “popularity” problem.

What always is tougher are ways for app and service providers, specifically, to collaborate in ways that are mutually beneficial. In a somewhat more limited way, a cloud provider’s partner programs are modeled on the app store model, and provide the same sorts of benefits.

For service providers, the issue is rather important. Over time, unless some obvious and integral role in the apps ecosystem is created, access providers will be “dumb pipes” in a commodity business.
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