Salesforce.com Frees Up Mobility
Cloudforce London '09: The popular on-demand provider introduces a free version of its mobile CRM access package -- after all, one executive says, "cloud applications make mobility possible."
Posted Apr 7, 2009
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The growing number of high-quality mobile devices in business users’ hands has spurred Salesforce.com to action once again, and this time it won’t cost its customers one cent. Today, as part of a corporate event in London, the popular software-as-a-service (SaaS) business software provider is introducing Mobile Lite, a free partial version of its mobile client for RIM BlackBerry, Apple iPhone, and Windows Mobile devices.

Mobile Lite grants users of Salesforce CRM Professional, Enterprise, and Unlimited Editions free access to a number of applications in what the company terms its Sales Cloud and its Service Cloud, the aggregation of its sales force automation and customer service offerings. Users of Professional and Enterprise Editions can upgrade to the full Salesforce mobile client for $50 per user, per month; the full client is included at no cost with Unlimited Edition, but some users may prefer the more streamlined Lite configuration.

“The question was how to bring mobile to the masses,” Kraig Swensrud, vice president of product marketing for Salesforce.com, tells CRM magazine. "A lot of this is from the Sendia acquisition,” he says, referring to the wireless applications technology company which became Salesforce.com’s first corporate acquisition in April 2006.

“We want even more customers to experience the success possible with mobile access to our cloud,” said Marc Benioff, cofounder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Salesforce.com, in a statement released at the London launch event. “We want our customers to take the cloud with them, wherever they go. By delivering mobile access to our cloud, for free, we’re accelerating adoption of the cloud and delivering value to customers in times when they need it the most.”

The access possible with Mobile Lite is not complete—the interface lacks custom objects and certain search and edit options—but analysts say it's a good start. For some users, in fact, Lite may be all that's needed. “Ten years ago, accessing applications on your cell phone was considered advanced. Today, mobile access to enterprise applications is expected,” said Sheryl Kingstone, director of enterprise research for analyst firm Yankee Group, in a statement. “Salesforce.com understands the productivity benefits that come with mobile access, and is making Mobile Lite an added benefit of Salesforce.com.”

“We can mobilize almost anything on the Force.com platform; designers just create the application and click to deploy,” says Chuck Dietrich, vice president of mobile, Salesforce.com. “Cloud applications make mobility possible. Mobile Lite will encourage the speed at which people get their feet wet with mobility.”

“It looks like Salesforce.com is doing the smart thing by adding value to the basic license, and providing expanded mobile CRM capabilities,” says Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of Beagle Research Group and CRM magazine columnist. “It could also be a nice little 'green' application—users can get more done without firing up a computer.”

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