Google today unveiled an education-focused section of its Google Apps Marketplace, a directory of Web-based services, which could expand options for colleges and universities that have adopted Google’s free e-mail and application suite.
The marketplace itself is just nine months old, and showcases applications built by other software companies that work with Google’s free applications, such as Gmail and Google Docs.
Early vendors in the marketplace are mostly focused on elementary and secondary education, and include the bibliography generator EasyBib and the social-networking test-prep company Grockit. Google said future apps are anticipated from Blackboard, the leading provider of course-management systems to colleges, and Knewton, a test-preparation software company.
The marketplace, which now features about 250 third-party apps, had previously been more business-focused, says Scott McMullan, partner lead for Google Apps.
Google provides documentation for companies to follow in developing applications and ensures that the applications work with existing Google applications, but the company takes a hands-off approach in other areas, such as pricing and privacy controls.
“It’s a very open market,” Mr. McMullan says.
Applications are available for adoption on a college- or schoolwide level, and Mr. McMullan says the expectation is that administrators for each institution will evaluate whether applications conform to their privacy standards.
Nearly 60 percent of colleges turn to outside companies for their student e-mail, according to Kenneth C. Green’s Campus Computing Survey. Google and Microsoft are the leading providers, with more than half of colleges using Google and slightly more than 40 percent of colleges that outsource choosing Microsoft.
Rafael Corrales, founder of LearnBoost, a new company that makes open-source online grade-book software, says the new marketplace category will be a boon to start-ups like his own. “Before, education start-ups had a big problem with distribution,” he says.
In a statement, Microsoft said it has “the world’s largest partner ecosystem for the cloud, with 16,000 Microsoft partners,” and that it has partnerships with leading education companies such as Blackboard, Pearson, Desire2Learn, and Moodle.