Salesforce.com is extending its AppExchange network to mobile devices with the introduction of AppExchange Mobile.
The new feature was developed using proprietary software from Sendia, a wireless business platform company, which Salesforce.com announced it would acquire for US$15 million in cash.
The new functionality means that any firm that has developed a third-party application on AppExchange can now automatically use that application on their BlackBerries and cell phones, according to Kendall Collins, vice president of product marketing.
Extending the Platform
“It is a big extension to our platform,” he told CRM Buyer. Using it, “developers can write a single application definition — once — and then run it anywhere on any mobile device.”
Indeed, he said, companies that have downloaded AppExchange applications will find that they are automatically enabled for the mobile environment, starting Tuesday. “It can be installed with a few clicks,” Collins said.
The AppExchange Mobile platform supports a number of handheld devices including RIM’s BlackBerry, as well as such wireless operating systems and platforms as Intel’s Centrino, PalmOS, RIM OS and Windows Mobile (beta).
It also includes over-the-air management features and secure data transfer.
AppExchange Mobile is the latest inducement Salesforce.com has developed to entice users to try out the application.
It offers users Salesforce.com-friendly applications developed by such third-party vendors as Adobe, Business Objects and Skype.
The latest version was rolled out in mid-January along with Salesforce.com’s Winter ’06 release. A month ago, it introduced Unlimited Edition in order to offer extended storage capabilities for companies that are using AppExchange.
It is difficult to predict how quickly AppExchange will be utilized. Mobile CRM — though it is not a perfect analogy — has not proven to be as lucrative for vendors as analysts predicted it would be over the years. It has accounted for a paltry less-than-10 percent of total CRM revenues, according to Visiongain. Difficulty in using applications has been one barrier.
Salesforce.com hopes to overcome this perception with AppExchange. Collins emphasizes how easy it is to use and customize — another issue with typical mobile CRM and other business line applications.
For instance, one food service company used AppExchange to develop a way to track ingredients. At that level of customization, he said, there is no way Salesforce.com would have rolled out a comparable offering, much less a mobile version of it.
“AppExchange Mobile solves key issues for both our customers and our partners,” said Marc Benioff, CEO. “Our customers are eager for ways to extend their on-demand applications to the mobile workforce, and developers need a painless way to address this major opportunity.”