Zoho launches online market for business apps

Company also updates the Zoho Creator hosted database development tool set

Online application company Zoho today unveiled a new marketplace it says will allow users to buy and sell business applications and resell its Zoho Creator tool for building online database applications.

The company said it is looking for the new Zoho Marketplace to create a community where buyers and sellers of applications built using Zoho Creator can find one another and negotiate prices, Zoho said.

Creator developers can build custom Web-based applications based on specifications submitted by marketplace members, or they can build ready-made applications and post them for broad distribution, the company added.

Zoho, which has made its name in online office productivity applications, also launched a new Zoho Creator Partner Program aimed at encouraging resellers, consultants, developers and other users to distribute end-user applications and resell Creator itself.

Zoho today also announced Creator 3.0, with added support for custom HTML pages and mashups, Zoho said. The new version will allow users to build custom HTML pages by embedding code in HTML to create dynamic HTML pages; users can also embed forms, views and other widgets, Zoho said. The new version will also let users combine data from external Web sites via Web APIs to build mashups, Zoho said.

"Zoho Creator 3.0 epitomizes our mission on the Web -- give our customers powerful applications that are simple to use," said Raju Vegesna, Zoho evangelist, in a statement. "Zoho Creator is an ideal solution for people who are not developers, but who still want to create their own 'situated applications.' These small, situation-specific applications are often needed immediately, on the fly, and Zoho Creator eliminates lengthy development cycles to deliver solutions in minutes."

Michael Arrington, a blogger at TechCrunch, noted that while Zoho's online office productivity tools have long competed head-on with Google Inc., its new offerings also compete with Salesforce.com Inc.'s AppExchange marketplace for third-party applications.

He added that Zoho claims that more than 100,000 applications have already been built on its Creator platform, most of which are available to all users. "Those applications are not being moved over to the marketplace automatically, but developers will have the option to do so, and either charge for the apps or give them away for free. Zoho is giving 100% of the fees to developers," Arrington said.

He also noted that General Electric announced at the Office 2.0 conference earlier this month that it will use Zoho applications on its 400,000 desktops. Zoho was selected over rival Google, he added.

Zoho Creator 3.0 is available now and offers a variety of pricing plans, including personal and business editions that are free for an unlimited number of users (personal edition) or for the first five users (business edition). Additional business plans provide bolstered security through SSL scripting, rebranding, data backup, nonbranded embedding and additional storage.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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