Constant Contact is well on its way to having one million customers, Intuit has millions of customers in its arsenal, including QuickBooks, Facebook is replacing Google as the preferred method of online advertising and currently leads in social media connectivity, Google is a leading player in the collaboration and communication space with Microsoft’s variety of services (Office 365 and others) having a growing share as well and Word Press leads in helping small businesses with their web sites. I would be remiss if I did not include Apple’s iPhone/iPad ecosystem in this group as well – their apps are the defacto standard for mobile apps.
The foundation technologies for small business services includes email marketing, financial management, collaboration and communication, social media/blogs, etc.
In these areas there are various leaders, such as I’ve listed above who dominate their space.
In some industries no one player has a significant market share but there is a wide swath of players.
Take the CRM space – Salesforce.com has a big brand name, but Infusionsoft (and Infusionsoft is on fire), BatchBook, Marketo and others have intensely growing customer bases as well.
The leading players are power brokers because they all have ecosystems of developers who create custom applications. In fact often times these independent developers get their biggest customers, not from acquiring their own customers but through customers from the power brokers platforms.
In the case of Constant Contact their marketplace is booming with amazing software that directly connects to Constant Contact.
Of course Google Apps has hundreds of applications that integrate seemlessly into it as well.
I could go on, but all of these vendors are bursting at the seems with applications that their developers are creating for them.
At Infusionsoft’s user conference last week, Infusioncon they already have a powerful array of developers and partners adding software to Infusionsoft to make it do more than ever – such as event management, webinar hosting and so much more.
What’s also amazing is Dell’s journey from selling computers, to installation services to software. Dell is in for the long haul to be a leading vendor of software installation, management and customization services to businesses – a power broker in software as well.
As you are looking to build your business on top of these small business platforms you want to ensure they are building powerful developer networks which are essential to ensuring that you not only get the core set of applications you paid to get but also many more from 3rd party developers.