Launches Online App Marketplace

Following Microsoft’s lead with its Windows Marketplace, on-demand
CRM and applications provider opened sforce, an online marketplace
where customers can browse through a range of third-party add-ons and enhancements to its
own software.

“It’s not just about the on-demand applications we provide,” said Adam Gross, director
of product marketing. “We provide a platform that can address a whole range of
solutions. But we can’t provide any application anyone wants, and we’re not expert at everything

The availability of third-party software, he said, makes the core product more
valuable and therefore more attractive to more customers. began five years ago by offering a Web-based application for customer
relationship management (CRM). Customers pay a monthly subscription for accessing applications,
which now include, a customer service tool launched in September. Offerings
also include sforce, a series of APIs that let customers and third-party developers extend applications.

With the introduction of sforce in September, became a development platform,
Gross said. “It’s becoming much more common that people think about services not as Web sites,
but as platforms for software and new services. That’s exactly what we’re up to.”

Listings in the marketplace are free, and any software provider can list products. They
also can become certified by being vetted by engineers and providing three
customer references. Gross said that online auction king eBay was the
inspiration for the marketplace. To that effect, marketplace customers can post feedback on
the products. also launched a customer-centric Web site,, where users
can post war stories and trade advice and information.

At its quarterly users’ conference, the San Francisco, Calif.-based company also introduced, an on-demand, Web-based toolkit that lets customers re-work and extend the and applications to their needs. The kit lets them customize
the user interface, business logic and data model from within and

The announcements came with scheduled quarterly product upgrades to the CRM and
customer service applications, which include more than 50 new features, according to the
company. promises that enhancements or changes customers make to the software
will not be affected by the product upgrades, which are delivered automatically at no charge
to all customers.

The sforce Web services API, on which is built, also was updated to version
5.0. It includes a telephony API toolkit to be used by businesses that want to integrate with telephony software. Applications from Alcatel, Aspect, Avaya, Cisco
and Genesys are among those supported.

Salesforce partner Responsys, a vendor of on-demand applications for e-mail marketing, announced
the Responsys Interact Connecter, which lets business users launch and manage e-mail marketing campaigns
from within

“With Responsys in the connector, we can actually send out messages on
behalf of salesforce to their contacts at the right part of the process,” said Responsys
chief marketing officer Scott Olrich.

He said that the marketing partnership benefits both companies. Responsys gets additional
distribution, and can offer the enterprise-class e-mail marketing software as a
lure to larger customers.

“As is trying to move to larger customers, we’ve
become an even more important fit,” he said. “It helps them, because they can provide a more
compete solution, and it helps us, because they have a wider network of salespeople.”

Another partner, WebEx Communications , announced that its remote
technical support product, WebEx Support Center, was integrated into
WebEx makes on-demand Web meeting applications, and Support Center lets technical
support personnel remotely fix problems.

With the tight integration provided, “if a customer uses, when one of their
customers calls, not only can you take the information, you can actually — within the
application — click a button [leading to WebEx Support Center] and have the integrated
experience,” said WebEx spokesperson Praful Shah.

Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone said that because the third-party products are
based on Web services, they tend to be very easy to integrate. “A lot of them have built
in a call, so they’re very easy to add to the basic”

Kingstone added that providing tools that let other companies extend’s
offerings is a great direction.

“It’s very much like Microsoft,” she said. “They’re not going to come out and create
all the functionality for verticals. They’re trying to empower end users and the marketplace
to provide that functionality.” By creating a marketplace, she said, “If you need [some functionality],
it’s there. But you don’t build in a lot of over-complex solutions into your product to meet the needs of a few.”

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