A San Antonio, Tx.-based infrastructure hosting company has launched a new marketplace for software-as-a-service application developers, and likens the approach of matching apps and customers to online dating.
Visitors on AppMatcher browsing for hosted apps create a profile indicating their industry, company size, department and role. The site then matches users to apps that best fit their profiles.
Rackspace Inc.’s vice-president of enterprise strategy Andy Schroepfer likens AppMatcher to online dating site eHarmony.com because he said it’s not just about filtering and searching, it’s “about finding something that will be a sustaining relationship.”
“It is true with the popularity of the iPhone and the applications people use on their mobile devices, that you can fall in love with apps,” said Schroepfer.
Rackspace is trying to help those little known hosted apps that may not become household names because they target niche markets. Schroepfer said the problem with marketplaces out there like Salesforce.com AppExchange, Google Apps Marketplace and Windows Marketplace for Mobile is that they’re useful only when you know what you’re looking for.
“But they’re still not helpful if you want to find apps that you don’t know exist that can make you more productive,” said Schroepfer.
Rackspace already hosts about a thousand customer B2B apps as part of its core SaaS service. The idea behind AppMatcher is to provide a free environment in which these developers can showcase their wares and potentially grow the business, resulting in more hosting revenue for Rackspace.
The open platform means that all developers can market their apps regardless of whether it is hosted with Rackspace. Schroepfer said, the company wants to offer an environment that is not vendor-centric where users have a broad choice of apps no matter who built them. “We trying to just create a different, and what we believe to be a better, user interface for the end user because we’re taking such an open approach,” said Schroepfer.
By end of 2010, Rackspace hopes to have about a couple of thousand apps on AppMatcher. One of these developers is Berwin, Penn.-based integration cloud platform provider Boomi Inc., that also hosts its app with Rackspace.
Boomi’s founder and chief technology officer Rick Nucci said AppMatcher is appealing because it provides a platform upon which to market, putting the app “top of mind” with potential customers.
Nucci, who has visited other app marketplaces, said one key difference with AppMatcher is the specificity of the target audience. “We know the role it’s going to be. We know the type of company it’s going to be. So it enables us to be able to position what we’re doing very well,” said Nucci.
Otherwise, with other marketplaces, Nucci said, “It’s just a stranger showing up.”
Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau