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Café Innovation – How about an SAP App store?

When the iPhone first came out many dismissed it as a toy for gadget lovers. Today, it has many copycats across the mobile spectrum. Google, BlackBerry and other popular handhelds have all tried to simulate the experience in different ways. Behind all this highly visible activity is the emergence of “apps” and the “app store.” Apple’s App store has thousands of apps available for free or paid downloads, and consumers are happily going for it. A lot of it is for the fun-factor – games, music and video. But, say, MacMillan et al. in a recent Business Week article (“Inside the App Economy,” by D. MacMillan, P. Burrows, S. E. Ante, Business Week, November 2, 2009), “… there’s much more to this surging market.”

For one, Google, and Research in Motion (RIM), the BlackBerry people, have established their own app stores. And they are being joined in this by others as well. All said, across the industry there are now a “dozen rival stores, and at least 100,000 apps have been created.

Second, it is no longer just about fun for the sake of fun. People want to bring that experience into their work environments. Businesses are allowing their executives to increasingly manage their business with apps running right from their mobile devices. The Business Week article cites the availability of apps for and other enterprise software vendors.

An interesting aspect of the apps made available in these app stores is that many of these have been developed by individual outsiders and not by the app store owners! The community approach is a key accelerating factor here. Given the increasing interest in Enterprise use of apps, it is not unreasonable to suppose that there will be app stores for driving more creative use of SAP functionality as well.

For long, SAP’s standard offerings have been stereotyped as robust, but a little boring to use. This can change dramatically, if using an iPhone or a BlackBerry a user is able to conduct transactions within an entire business process spanning SAP and other functionality! SAP and its mobility partners are aware of this, and no doubt will offer the ability to conduct an increasing number of SAP transactions from mobile devices. But I see an even bigger movement happening outside this group, with potential SAP app stores being started by others.

There is a budding movement in this arena that can quickly enable the enterprise user to run a mashup from a mobile device – one that also leverages services from SAP! If this emerging model can establish appropriate framework(s) quickly, then there is no saying what the vast ecosystem of SAP developers might create and populate the store(s) with! Perhaps in a future post, we shall continue the discussion on what such a store might have to offer!

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I do remember the SAP xapps hub presented at Keynote Teched a few years back which was a great innovative concept which sadly is now being followed up by other vendors.
      Author's profile photo Craig Cmehil
      Craig Cmehil
      SAP offers of course the SAP EcoHub we also have (from SAP Research and SAP Innovation Labs) apps in the Apple iStore - the question really comes down to supporting your customer base and not necessarily in just being another "me too" in terms of running out and creating yet another rival store.

      Mobile (just spoke about this Friday ) I think will have a huge impact on the Enterprise space in the near future the question of course and as always is how quickly will customers adopt - SAP has already shown in SAP TechEd Demo Jams as well as other events several bleeding edge prototypes and products in the mobile landscape so on one side we are there and ready and unfortunately now waiting...

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Craig,
      Good to hear the update. As I said in the post, SAP is no doubt working on this, but there is also a movement afoot outside of SAP to make headway in this direction. The outside-in approach could be interesting to customers as it is likely to be focused on enabling business processes that happen to use SAP services, as opposed to creating capabilities that revolve around enabling SAP transactions on mobile devices. In an ideal world the two approaches will converge....

      Thanks again for your input and perspective!


      - Puneet

      Author's profile photo Bernhard Knoblauch
      Bernhard Knoblauch
      Good idea - also my first thought about this.

      On the other hand, what content do you expect from such an app store for the SAP eco-system?

      You would need:
      - "enough" developers who write mobile applications for the SAP environment
      - "just for fun" (willing to share their work)
      - not customer specific.

      My expectations with mobile applications in the SAP world is, that they are typically very customer specific. So I would not expect to just download them and reuse them in another context than they were developped for.

      You could of course learn from concepts or maybe  source code, but this means the person has to publish his or her concepts, source code etc.

      But then we are not talking about some app store but about some "How-to" store.

      Best regards, Bernhard Knoblauch

      Author's profile photo Pierre Dominique
      Pierre Dominique

      As Bernhard said, the problem is Enterprise Applications are complex and usually customer specific.

      Even if you are able to create a generic application (i.e BlackBerry sales client for SAP CRM) customers won't be able to install the application with one click (i.e BlackBerry sales client for SAP CRM prerequisites).



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Code Exchange has been announced for SDN.  This will be a place where anyone can contribute code, and anyone can download code, all for free.  This is the essence of an App Store for SAP, is it not?