Appcelerator has built up a community of 1.5 million developers who have used its Titanium cross-platform development tool to build more than 25,000 apps for iOS (s aapl), Android (s goog) and BlackBerry (s rimm) devices. Now it’s looking to turn that community into a selling opportunity by launching a marketplace for software modules from third-party vendors such as PayPal (s ebay), Twilio, Salesforce (s crm), Millennial Media and Bump.
Developers who use Titanium Studio will now be able to shop in Appcelerator Open Mobile Marketplace, where they can find cross-platform software tools and services that they can easily plug into their apps. If they need to integrate advertising on their different mobile apps, for example, they can drop in a module from AdMob or Millennial, or if they need other cloud back-end services for messaging or payments, they can use Twilio or PayPal. One integration, which can take minutes, will enable all of their Titanium apps. Appcelerator will talk more about the marketplace at its CODESTRONG Developer Conference on Monday.
Appcelerator Open Mobile Marketplace is launching with more than 50 initial modules, including app templates, design elements and cloud extensions. There are also gaming modules that include Gamekit, OpenGL for graphics and Box2D for physics. Companies with their own apps, such as social TV and media service GetGlue, can also offer its check-in service in the marketplace so other apps can integrate GetGlue’s check-in functionality. A full list of modules can be found here.
Scott Schwarzhoff, Appcelerator’s VP of Marketing, told me the new marketplace was a logical next step for the company, which started selling its own premium extensions like Facebook integration to developers earlier this year. Now it’s filling a need for both developers and software makers, who can do business in the marketplace. Developers can get tools that are easy to implement across multiple apps, allowing them to scale up quickly, while software vendors can tap a ready-made audience of developers to get their products out. Appcelerator, for its part, will take in 30 percent of sales in the marketplace. Said Schwarzhoff:
On a daily basis you see some new company launches with an SDK and or API set and you can launch, but how do you recruit developers? We did that first; we got developers first and now have a marketplace for the capabilities coming out each day. It’s a recognition of the explosion in mobility with 700,000 apps in the app stores, you need to identify ways to differentiate apps in stores. You need a healthy ecosystem of components to add value in new interesting ways.
Appcelerator will distribute modules for free or offer to sell them for a onetime fee or with monthly and annual subscriptions. Software providers can also offer services for free and monetize on the back end by charging particular users who use their services.
Schwarzhoff said the market can become a virtuous cycle. As more vendors offer services, it can attract more developers, which in turn creates a bigger market for module providers. He said the ultimate goal is to help developers succeed, which he said can be beneficial for everyone. And that’s how he expects Appcelerator to grow, by being a useful marketplace for the larger mobile ecosystem.
It’s a savvy move by Appcelerator, which has helped many developers and companies launch their mobile apps across multiple platforms. And now it sees that it doesn’t need to provide all the tools itself. It can be like Apple (s aapl) and make good money by being a software marketplace; only instead of mobile users being the end consumers, the developers are.
Appcelerator is taking advantage of the boom in mobile apps and the exploding opportunity in providing mobile development services, which is projected to grow to $100 billion by 2015 by one estimate. Appsfire recently reported that there have been 1 million iOS and Android apps developed to date. That number is only going to grow, and that means big money for Appcelerator and a host of others who can tap into this opportunity.
You can hear more about mobile app development at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference on Sept. 26 and 27 in San Francisco.