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Last week the potential use of enterprise applications received another massive shot in the arm. Salesforce.com made significant announced developments that hold the potential to lead to significant benefits for the company’s rapidly growing customer base and that could extend its appeal even further. First the company announced that it had spent $15 million in cash to acquire Sendia Corporation. In these days of multi-billion dollar acquisitions and mergers this announcement may, at first glance, not appear to be too significant. However, to make such an assumption would be to miss the potential represented in the purchase.
The potential impact of the acquisition of Sendia can be seen in the second development made by Salesforce.com, namely the announcement of AppExchange Mobile. The acquisition of Sendia and the immediate launch of AppExchange Mobile takes over 60 applications that are currently available via AppExchange and makes them available to mobile, wirelessly connected users on a number of platforms such as PDAs and cell phones.
The on demand software delivery model that Salesforce.com delivers to its customers is already proving to be very attractive and the number of subscribers to the company’s core CRM and other business applications is expanding at a very strong rate. The launch of AppExchange earlier this year provided a platform for the authors of other applications to make them available in the same fashion and using similar revenue generation models. To date, over 200 applications are now available on AppExchange, a number that is certain to expand as it is relatively straightforward for vendors to take their existing offerings and port them to the AppExchange platform. Indeed, it is my opinion that in the very near future AppExchange has the potential to become the main touch point for Salesforce.com’s customers.
The acquisition of Sendia and the launch of the AppExchange Mobile platform will allow users of mobile devices, including RIM BlackBerry, PalmOS, Windows Mobile and Intel Centrino, to make use of applications hosted on AppExchange Mobile. The AppExchange Mobile platform takes applications and utilises over the air management capabilities along with secure and reliable data transfer to allow customers to employ a wide range of wirelessly connected devices. These can run enterprise applications safely and efficiently without the need for either the customer to have to develop new support skills or for the application author to rewrite its code.
With the 60 plus applications available today, AppExchange Mobile is a service that the existing Salesforce.com user base will welcome. It should also attract new customers in a wide range of industries and geographies from organisations large and small. The AppExchange Mobile service is priced at $50 per user per month for Enterprise Edition and Professional Edition customers. Unlimited Edition customers receive the AppExchange Mobile service for no additional charge.
This development could allow Salesforce.com to attract yet another new group of customers from organisations both large and small. A lot could depend on the company’s ability to attract new partners to actively promote mobile application access, namely the mobile service providers. The only potential inhibitor to a very rapid adoption of AppExchange Mobile is the charges levied by the suppliers of wireless connectivity services, especially for those customers that need to roam outside of the base country.
It is clearly time for the mobile telecommunications operators to provide affordable wireless data connection plans. AppExchange Mobile could prove to be an ideal resource for mobile service providers to use to extend the appeal of their own services by combining data packages with an expanding, fully supported application portfolio. Will they take the opportunity?
There is no doubt that delivering application access to customers on the move is a major priority for many organisations. AppExchange Mobile has the promise to become the delivery platform of choice for customers wanting mobile application delivery on a pay monthly, ‘on-demand’ basis. With or without the mobile service providers getting actively involved, I predict that AppExchange Mobile and AppExchange will attract customers by the score.