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Report: Google planning app store for businesses

Third-party developers might soon be able to sell add-ons to the Google Apps suite of software for businesses through a Google-hosted online store, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google is preparing an online store in which it will sell third-party business software to Google Apps customers, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal says that Google's store could arrive as early as March with the works of third-party developers available as enhancements to Google's office productivity software suite. It appears the store would allow Gmail and Google Docs users to purchase add-ons for niche features too specialized for the mainstream Google Apps product.

Google already has a directory of sorts for these types of applications. The Google Solutions Marketplace contains lists and reviews of third-party software for Google Apps and Enterprise Search, but it does not let you buy the applications directly from Google. That might be what is about to change.

Google declined to comment on the report, other than to issue this statement. "The Google Solutions Marketplace makes it easy for our customers to connect with an ecosystem of products and professional services. We're constantly working with our partners to deliver more solutions to businesses, but we have nothing to announce at this time."

Developers would have to share revenue with Google from sales of their software through the store, according to the report. A specific breakdown was not provided, but the idea sounds very much like the mobile application stores run by Google, Apple, and several other companies: the developer typically gets 70 percent of the revenue. This system would also likely run through Google Checkout, which could be a challenge if Google is still dealing with the problems that plagued Google Checkout last year.

Offering incentives such as this type of store could also help attract more developers to the Google Apps platform, which could be a boost to Google's hopes of taking a piece of Microsoft's lucrative hold on the office productivity software market. Large enterprise customers might be reluctant to switch to Google Apps unless they are able to find a solution to a specific need, such as an inventory management system set up to work with spreadsheets or e-mail. Third-party developers could fill that hole without Google having to anticipate every such need.