Private app stores for companies could proliferate over the next few years, if one launched by Salesforce joins a larger trend.
Salesforce is giving customers the ability to craft a Private AppExchange of trusted and customized mobile and desktop apps. In theory, that sort of one-stop shopping could make life better for those CIOs and IT administrators who must manage a heterogeneous environment of public app stores, each with competing policies and features. The rise of BYOD has made the process of supporting apps that much more difficult.
A private app store could save an IT department the time otherwise needed to verify apps, give employees access, and customize experiences to meet job functions.
Salesforce isn’t the first company to launch something like this: late last year, Google launched Google Play Private Channel, which IT administrators can use to host organizations’ internal apps. However, that platform only supports Android apps; nor can an organization publish an app to a private channel and the broader Google Play at the same time.
Some companies have also built their own custom app stores—the most notable of which is IBM’s WhirlWind, released more than two years ago to Big Blue’s intranet. Tens of thousands of IBM employees use the service. For those firms without the resources to construct something on their own, companies such as Apperian offer tools for corporate mobile-app deployment and management.
Salesforce’s Private AppExchange also includes some standard-issue dashboards and analytics, giving companies insight into requests, installs, page-views, most popular apps, published apps, and other metrics.
Salesforce clearly sees a market ripe for its entrance. But time will only tell whether more of its rivals will introduce similar platforms to the market. The victor could be whichever company builds an app hub that’s comprehensive in its support of third-party apps (in addition to any custom internal apps) and easy to use by employees and IT administrators alike.