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Partnerpedia, a long-time developer of private-label mobile-application marketplaces, entered the space under its own name at the recent Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2011 in Orlando, with the unveiling of the Partnerpedia Enterprise AppZone.

By 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads from app stores each year, Gartner predicted, in a new report released at the event during the week of October 16. One dominated by consumers, apps and marketplaces are moving into the enterprise—and the IT department.

“With enterprise app stores, the role of IT shifts from that of a centralized planner to a market manager providing governance and brokerage services to users and potentially an ecosystem to support entrepreneurs,” Gartner said. “Enterprises should use a managed diversity approach to focus on app store efforts and segment apps by risk and value.”

App stores and marketplaces are one of the top strategic technologies for 2012, the research firm said, joining context-aware computing, media tablets, and big data, among others.

Partnerpedia, whose booth welcomed a steady stream of visitors, developed its Enterprise AppZone as a way to give IT the central control the department craves, while providing business users with the flexibility they are accustomed to in the world of mobility and tablets. Enterprise AppZone also helps organizations deal with the frequent scenario that happens when employees purchase their own device and use it for company business, and then leave the organization and have proprietary apps housed on their smartphone or tablet.

“Anytime there’s a new technology introduced to an enterprise, IT’s first reaction is, ‘Security.’ That is valid. What have changed now with mobile devices are the end-user’s expectations and productivity is now a requirement. It can’t just be a security issue,” said Sam Liu, vice president of marketing at Partnerpedia in an interview. “Executives are saying to IT, ‘I need it. Figure it out.’”

With Enterprise AppZone, IT departments can publish a corporate private app store. Everything in it is authorized by the IT department but is separate from a user’s personal applications.

“There’s no training involved because consumers already know how to use an app store,” Liu told Channel Insider. “It’s all role-based.”

Applications within Enterprise AppZone can be expense reports, product demos, price sheets, training materials, or other tools relevant to entire organization or certain departments, Liu said. This allows mobile professionals such as salespeople to have immediate access to materials without the need for Internet. Scheduled to become available before year-end, Enterprise AppZone can be divided by category, and can be searched, just like commercial app stores. If employees leave the company, IT can end their rights, cutting them off from the store and its apps, without affecting other areas of the phone or tablet.

Enterprise AppZone also includes security features such virus detection, monitoring, policy management, user/group access control, and remote wipe. In addition, Enterprise AppZone includes an application marketplace where IT can securely purchase and freely download pre-vetted business apps. And the marketplace supports corporate procurement processes such as volume and PO purchasing, and license management.

Pricing, which is not yet available, will be on a per-month, per-user basis.

Smartphones and tablets may be only the beginning.

“There’s no reason you can’t use the same app that’s self-service on laptops,” Liu told Channel Insider.