You've just woken from a 3-year coma. Cloud is everywhere. So how are you gonna make your millions and retire?

One bloke's 'Android store for cloud services' dream

Collision 2015 It wasn't that long ago that when you wanted decent software you went to a retail store like Staples and bought a cardboard box with a CD inside.

Then slowly we moved to downloading software and now it's hard to imagine anyone carrying a box to a counter when they can sit in their office or at home with a computer and a broadband connection.

The big question now is: how do you actually find software that would be useful to your business? Especially when it comes to the new wave of cloud-based services provided by everyone from Google, now Microsoft and thousands of smaller developers and publishers.

One answer is AppDirect, which provides a white-label service to big retailers including Staples, Comcast, Samsung, Rackspace and others. It hopes to be the Android marketplace for cloud services.

AppDirect holds a huge database of web-based services that it categorizes and delivers through its service and then lets other companies filter them and display them to their customers, as well as build their own recommendation engine based on customer review and activity.

The companies provide a service to their customers and take a cut; AppDirect charges a monthly fee and takes a transaction fee of between 5 and 15 per cent; and the developer gains access to a huge market that otherwise it wouldn't be able to reach.

Dev first

What's news is that later this month AppDirect is planning to expand its offering to developers in order to make it easier for them to go direct to market. "So far our advantage to developers has been that it can reduce their costs," explained AppDirect's CEO Daniel Saks to El Reg at the Collision conference in Las Vegas this week.

But by providing additional services including billing and even sales, a developer can focus on its products and keep its costs down while bringing in sales. AppDirect will take a cut, of course, and it also benefits from the fact that a strong developer base puts it in a strong position going forward. The more applications that come through AppDirect, the more useful its service is to third parties.

Saks sees four main group of developers: the start-up that has the product but is figuring out how to access potential customers and bill them; the emerging company that is looking to build a salesforce and uses third parties to help it with other parts of its business; distribution companies that are looking to amplify their sales through channel partners; and established companies who have their own systems and are looking to sell other applications through them. AppDirect hopes to appeal to each.

With the company's main job being to make sense of the wave of applications coming onto the market, we ask Saks what trends he's seeing. He gave us three:

  1. Applications are increasingly device-agnostic - they need to work on everything, not just PCs or smartphones, but PCs, Macs, Android, iOS and everything in between.
  2. Apps are omni-channel, meaning that they try to sell them every which way possible: direct, through resellers. All channels are good channels.
  3. Apps are increasingly segmenting themselves by vertical market and by geography (dentists in Germany, for example). Increased specialization accounting for the different needs of different market leads to greater adoption

AppDirect will announce its expanded developer service mid-May. ®

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