SAN FRANCISCO – Salesforce.com Inc. said on Sunday customers no longer have to buy its core product to use the company’s online market for business software, in a move aimed at better tapping into rising demand for Web-delivered applications.
Developers creating software for the AppExchange will have a wider range of potential customers since businesses can pick and choose products from the online market even if they do not have Salesforce’s sales and marketing software.
Analysts said the move helps Salesforce move toward its goal of providing a full-fledged computing platform that can do for buyers of Web-based software what Microsoft Windows does for desktop computer users or the Oracle database does for big businesses.
Salesforce, a pioneer in selling software programs as a service rather than as a packaged application, created AppExchange to encourage independent programmers to develop software for its customers.
“It gives them the means to sell more seats within an organization without Salesforce having to build the applications,” said Rob Bois, an analyst at AMR Research. “They can just collect royalties from the platform.”
Analysts predicted the move would spur developers to create even more programs for the online market, which currently features about 575 applications that help companies automate business functions such as recruiting and project management.
It also marks Salesforce’s latest bid to sign up more customers for its Web-based software — which is easier for many businesses to use and maintain than installed software — and fend off Microsoft, Oracle and SAP AG as they step up efforts in the potentially lucrative market.
According to technology research firm Gartner, Web-delivered software will grow to 25 percent of business software revenue in 2011 from 5 percent in 2005.
Ariel Kelman, a Salesforce executive, said the company has long considered unbundling the application from the platform following requests from customers looking for more software from the AppExchange.
Use of the platform costs $50 per user per month to run up to 10 AppExchange applications and $100 per user per month for unlimited programs from the online market.