Salesforce.com seizes Sendia for SaaS, CRM mobility

Salesforce.com announced today that it acquired mobile technology maker Sendia and launched AppExchange Mobile, which will rely on Sendia's technology to mobile-enable Software as a Service applications.

Salesforce.com wants to simplify the process of mobilizing CRM and other on-demand (also called Software as a Service

or SaaS) applications.

Salesforce.com announced today that it has acquired Santa Monica, Calif.-based Sendia Corp., a maker of mobile technology, in a $15 million cash transaction. The acquisition is the first by Salesforce.com Inc., a San Francisco-based hosted CRM technology provider, and adds new mobile functionality to its on-demand AppExchange platform.

For more information about Salesforce.com, SaaS and AppExchange

Read about the January launch of AppExchange

Learn how software-as-a-service is reaching beyond CRM

Check out a case study and predictions about mobile CRM

With the acquisition announcement, Salesforce.com unveiled AppExchange Mobile, which enables mobile development features such as over-the-air management, secure data transfer and support for many handheld mobile devices. The new platform is available immediately. The technology instantly mobile-enables over 60 on-demand applications available now on AppExchange and will drive the development of future mobile applications, according to Kendall Collins, vice president of product marketing.

"This evolution of the AppExchange platform is going to enable developers to come up with the next generation of mobile applications," Collins said. "By bringing AppExchange Mobile to market, we are enabling an entire ecosystem instantly."

The "beauty" of the on-demand model is immediate availability, Collins explained. Once Salesforce.com added the Sendia technology to its core platform, all AppExchange applications and users could reap benefits right away. Companies might choose to use the service differently, mobilizing all or just certain functions of an application. Salesforce.com expects that the new service will have a significant impact on the on-demand market, Collins said.

"Despite a lot of hype and promises, mobile applications have under-delivered," he said. "People have been able to e-mail … but until now, they haven't been able to run business applications."

The new AppExchange Mobile platform solves some major challenges for on-demand application developers, according to Collins. Historically, the process of mobile-enabling applications required development across multiple platforms and operating systems, as well as taking into account multiple disparate carriers. With the new system, developers can write an application once on the AppExchange platform and run it on multiple mobile devices without any additional coding, Collins said. Supported devices include handheld units, such as the popular BlackBerry device from Research in Motion (RIM), and wireless operating systems and platforms including Intel's Centrino, PalmOS, RIM OS and Windows Mobile (beta).

The move will have "virtually no impact" on Sendia customers, Collins said. Sendia was already providing its mobile technology to Salesforce.com customers prior to the acquisition announcement and shares all of its 79 customers with the CRM provider. Salesforce.com will continue to support Sendia's customer base "100%," he added. As a result of the acquisition, Alex Klyce, president and chief operating officer of Sendia, will become senior vice president and general manager of the AppExchange Mobile Business Unit for Salesforce.com.

"We are excited to become a central part of Salesforce.com's AppExchange platform," Klyce said in a statement. "AppExchange Mobile allows developers and partners to create applications directly for on-demand and mobile, rather than having to first develop an application and then port it to a mobile OS. Now partners can develop and distribute wired and mobile applications with AppExchange Mobile."

The mobile technology is available now and is priced at $50 per user per month for enterprise and professional edition customers. The service is included at no extra charge in the "unlimited" edition.

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