These days, application stores are all the rage for smartphone vendors ranging from Apple to Blackberry. Now Voice over IP vendor Broadsoft is trying to extend the concept to VoIP applications for your company's main communications systems.The Broadsoft Xtended Marketplace is designed to let you order new VoIP applications just like you'd order a new song from iTunes, the company said. Currently, there's only some two dozen apps available, ranging from VoIP-enabled Web 2.0 applications mashups with business solutions and social networking platforms.
According to Leslie Ferry, vice president of marketing for Broadsoft, the company hopes to substantially boost that number in the next three to four months. She said that Broadsoft has some 2,000 community members signed up for the service, with 30% of those "extremely active." Many developers are currently testing apps for the marketplace, she claimed, and some 200 customers are already using marketplace apps.
Taking the self-service App Store idea into areas like VoIP is an intriguing idea, promising more variety and lower prices. Ferry points out that there half a billion VoIP end users who could potentially use a service like this once their service providers enable it. "I think it's gonna be a key differentiator. You're going to see a lot of apps with a lot of adoption," she predicted.
So far, integration with Salesforce.com has drawn the most interest, Ferry said, with accounting, finance, and legacy applications also getting attention.
But for now, the Broadsoft Xtended Marketplace still has a long way to go to live up to that ideal, at least from the end user perspective. While Ferry says that partners can easily add their own apps, end users can't actually directly download them. Instead, the site puts you in contact with the developer, and then you have to take it from there on your own.
The Broadsoft Xtended Marketplace is currently in free beta, but is expected to add e-commerce capabilities within three months, said Ferry. At that point the company will begin to market the concept directly to end users, Ferry said, as will the partner service providers who create the applications available on the site.
So look for this concept to hit its make or break point this fall.