Salesforce.com plans to widen the capabilities of its AppExchange website in 2007 to more closely resemble the online presence already established by companies such as Apple Computer and eBay.At an event due to take place Tuesday in San Francisco, the on-demand vendor will lift the curtain on work already under way at the company to turn AppExchange into a fully functioning online marketplace for hosted software.The idea is to make it as easy for customers to buy on-demand software from AppExchange as it is to purchase songs from Apple\u2019s iTunes music store, according to Kendall Collins, senior vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com.Ever since Salesforce.com officially launched AppExchange in January, there\u2019s been a question mark as to how the company will generate significant revenue from the service, he said. The site showcases both Salesforce.com and third-party hosted applications.To date, AppExchange has functioned mostly as a central place where users of Salesforce.com\u2019s hosted software can go to find and try related applications and tools provided by the company, independent software vendors (ISVs) and developers.When customers want to buy a vendor\u2019s application, they have to individually contract with that company, meaning small development shops have had to provide the necessary infrastructure themselves to deal with selling, invoicing and deploying their products. Next year, Salesforce.com will make those capabilities available to any of its partners willing to pay for the services through an initiative the company has dubbed AppStore.There are several planned AppStore components. The AppStore Standard Referral Program will be available in February 2007, followed in August by AppStore Premium Referral Program and then AppStore Checkout in December.The Referral programs provide partners with access to Salesforce.com\u2019s marketing services, while the Checkout service will give them access to online ordering, billing, invoicing and collection services.Partners using Checkout will pay Salesforce.com 20 percent of the first year\u2019s revenue they obtain from any sale they close through AppExchange and the same percentage for subsequent years. The Referral services will work out at 10 percent of the first year\u2019s revenue of a sale for the standard version and 25 percent for the premium version, with nothing to pay in subsequent years.Checkout is a very significant development project for Salesforce.com, Collins said, essentially committing the company to taking all the services and infrastructure it uses to run its own business and making those capabilities available to any of its partners worldwide. The vendor is already testing a prototype of the service able to handle multiple currencies and languages along with local sales tax requirements with some of its partners and developers. The prototype features single sign-on technology and includes an option for customers to purchase more Salesforce software licenses as they\u2019re buying AppExchange applications. Customers can also renew and upgrade their AppExchange subscriptions as well as purchase add-on technologies.-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.