The Google Apps Marketplace now has a preliminary billing API that allows a SaaS vendor to manage subscriptions on its own platform.

SlideRocket, GQueues, Cohuman, and WikiFYD are the first services to accept customer transactions using the API, which is powered by Google Checkout.

Google Apps Marktplace is becoming an ecosystem for app developers. But until this point, the service has not had an API that allows providers to bill customers for subscriptions.

Google handles all billing and takes a 20% cut of the sale. That's a lower percentage than Apple, for example, which takes 30% off the top for apps on its platform. Scott McMullan, partner lead for Google Apps, says the apps on the marketplace have a lower commission because they have a higher value.

SlideRocket provides a Web-based platform for building presentations. It has a number of features that make it different from Power Point and desktop oriented products. You can easily add videos or audio. You can do polls. It comes with analytics.

SlideRocket markets through the Web with an increasing focus on Google, said Chuck Dietrich, the company's CEO in an interview today. The Google Apps Marketplace has 30 million users, which represents a significant market for the company. The API is designed to also be used for the Google Chrome Store where SlideRocket also offers its service.

Provisioning is easier, too. A company can administer licenses through the billing API as employee counts go up or down.

The Google Billing API has features such as the choice of offering per-seat, site-wide licensing or a mix of the two and the ability to subscribe buyers to applications on a fixed monthly or yearly billing plan, including an introductory free trial period if desired.

The marketplace still has some limitations:

  • Pay-as-you-go payments, where the application charges a fee for a given amount of usage and tracks the user's decreasing remaining allotment, is currently unsupported. For example, you can't bill according to the total number of emails a user sends.
  • Invoicing -- credit cards are the only currently supported billing instruments.
  • A group inside of an organization can't be billed. Licensing is currently for a specific set of named users.

The billing API is well-documented and can be set up quickly. SlideRocket set up its API over a weekend.

Google continues to build world-class APIs. The Google Apps Marketplace has become a leader in providing a place for customers to try a variety of apps. The billing API is the latest example of that leadership.