I've been following with interest the many discussions in Planet Lotus this past two weeks and more than once someone mentioned that "we need an app store for Lotus Notes applications." This weekend , I got caught up with the excellent and informative This Week In Lotus podcasts and the topic was brought up again. On the podcast, opinions were shared as to why or why not an app store or catalog would or would not work. At point, Darren Duke even said something to the effect of, "you guys should talk to Eric Mack because his company's already done it with eProductivity."
There are three current solutions available that I am aware of today: OpenNTF , the Lotus Software Catalog, and the Notes App Store. OpenNTF is great, but it's geared toward developers. Lotus launched the Lotus Software Catalog at LS10 and it's beautiful, but I honestly have no idea if it is being promoted in any way that a potential customer could find it. The Notes App Store is really a catalog -- you can't buy anything yet -- but it's designed to make it easy for the end user to be able to browse through available Notes applications. This is probably the closest thing I've seen to the original printed Lotus Solutions Catalog from the early 1990's.
As far as how we sell our product, I'm not sure I would call what we have done an "app store." We have only one item available for purchase, so I can't even call it a catalog. Still, it's the only completely turn-key Notes solution I am aware of that allows someone (an administrator, executive, or end-user) to visit the site, download a stand-alone demo of the application, try it out five minutes later, download the template, apply it, evaluate it, purchase an activation key, and activate the software -- all with minimal user intervention. It wasn't easy to build, but I have some of the brightest people on my team and what we have created works and works well every day. (As I write this, people are downloading, evaluating and purchasing our software on their own.)
But this post is not about my company's product - it's about the process we use to deliver it. The people that use our product are administrators, executives, and end users -- all of them are busy people that want to save time. We've worked to lower the barrier to deployment by improving the method of delivery for our Notes app. We made it fast and easy to evaluate, apply, and purchase.
I know that it is possible to create something similar to the one stop shopping experience that end-users have come to expect with their phones. It's not quite built into Notes (as I hope someday it will be) but it works and people use it every day.
Anyway, if there's interest, I would be happy to provide an overview of how this was done and some of the lessons we've learned along the way.