Mashups are one of the technologies that tend to be mentioned in the same breath as Web 2.0. And like many of those techs, businesses are trying to figure out just how the heck they can benefit from them.
Leave it to Google and Salesforce.com, companies practically dripping with Web 2.0 cred, to show us the way.
First a definition: Mashups are applications created using free code and development tools provided by companies like Google -- and eBay, and Microsoft, and Yahoo, and a growing number of others.
As outlined in a recent Forbes article, Google puts its famed advertising engine on sites created with mashups using Google code and tools, then splits the profits with the developers. But this advertising money is likely to be small potatoes compared with the traffic, insight on user behavior, and sheer buzz generated by these mashups.
Plenty of businesses have made good use of the free Google tools. Case in point: Dell, which created a parts tracking mashup with Google Maps. Development timelines for mashups are short, sometimes startlingly so. "There is no cycle," says Mark Lucovsky, a Microsoft veteran now employed by Google.
Though Google's business model and mashups seem to be a perfect match, other companies are finding gold.
The poster child for mashups is Salesforce.com, which allows folks to create and sell mashups via its AppExchange service. The Exchange, introduced less than a year ago, contains nearly 300 business software applications, more than 200 of them created by independent developers. Companies can easily integrate them into their existing Salesforce implementations.
Mashups also provide a way for companies to connect with the hotshot developers who love to create them. The mashups give companies an introduction not only to talented developers, but also to burgeoning markets. What better entry into the hot mobile markets in Europe and Asia, for example, than a development community created through mashups?