Zoom adds app developer incentives; Teams revamps app store

Microsoft and Zoom compete in winning developers for their respective collaboration platforms. Each company features more than 1,000 apps in its store.

Microsoft will revamp its Teams app store, and Zoom announced further payments from its app development fund as both companies competed for developers to make their collaboration platforms more valuable.

Microsoft and Zoom have each sought to make their products a central part of an employee's workday. To do so, the two companies have enlisted the help of third-party developers to add capabilities to their platforms.

Microsoft announced the Teams app store redesign this week. The changes to the store include several ways to showcase third-party apps, bringing them to the attention of workers and companies most likely to buy them. The company said the improved store will roll out this month.

The new store will feature a carousel at the top of the landing page to highlight apps. The store will refresh the carousel frequently to display different offerings. Users will see a Microsoft-curated collection of apps, a list of the most popular ones on Teams, and industry and function-specific app categories. The company will also make recommendations based on the apps used frequently within a business.

The redesigned Microsoft Teams app store
The new Microsoft Teams app store features a carousel at the top to highlight top apps.

Microsoft said it planned to make apps easier to install in a future update but didn't say when it would release the feature.

This week, Zoom announced the second round of payments from its $100 million apps fund. Thirteen companies received the money in the latest payout, including whiteboard app Allo, meeting recording and transcription app Grain, and Mio, which allows Zoom Chat users to message coworkers on Teams, Slack or Webex. Other funded apps let employees play games aimed at team building, help HR conduct job interviews, and use AI to prepare agendas and update CRM data.

In April, Zoom established the apps fund to pay developers to build software for its marketplace. The company announced the first recipients in August.

The fund pays between $250,000 and $2.5 million to its selected companies. Zoom did not say how much of the $100 million it distributed in either round of funding.

Zoom is not alone in paying for app development. Cisco and RingCentral also fund startups to build products for their collaboration platforms.

Both Microsoft and Zoom opened their platforms to third-party apps in 2020, and each company features more than 1,000 apps in their store. By allowing developers to create apps for their platforms, Microsoft and Zoom can address more uses for their products than they could alone.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily NewsWalpole TimesSharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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