We’ve come to know the phrase “app store” in relation to the online marketplaces for the software we run on our smartphones. Apple has used it since it debuted the iTunes App Store in 2007. But the phrase was first created and trademarked by Salesforce.com, then gifted to Apple by that company’s CEO, Marc Benioff.
Salesforce itself went on to create its own app store, called the AppExchange, and in the world of cloud-based business software, it’s the biggest app marketplace aimed at businesses. Companies using Salesforce.com can download and install apps that enhance their experiences or add specialized functions that apply specifically to their lines of business.
While downloads from Apple’s App Store number in the tens of billions, downloads from Salesforce’s AppExchange today hit three million, according to a company blog post. And while that seems like a pretty small number, especially when you realize it has existed since 2006, consider this: The download of a single app — there are about 2,700 — might affect hundreds or thousands of individual users across a company. That makes it hard to quantify exactly how many individual users there are using these apps.
We do know this: More than 70 percent of Salesforce customers — again, customers are typically companies, not people — are using apps, and about half have installed at least two. And as is the case with popular apps on the App Store, a few successful companies are built entirely around AppExchange apps. Examples include ServiceMax, a cloud-based service that companies use to manage field service personnel, and Kenandy, a cloud-based application for running a company’s finances and operations.
In the end, it’s not clear how much money this all generates for Salesforce. While it says it keeps 15 percent of revenue generated by every AppExchange app — half of the 30 percent that Apple keeps from paid App Store downloads — it doesn’t break out those figures in its earnings reports.
But one thing is clear: It’s growing faster than before. It took six years before the AppExchange reached its millionth download in 2011, then two years to break the two million mark. This latest milestone took 18 months.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.