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SugarCRM kicks Salesforce's shins in Japan

SugarCRM just made a huge coup in Japan.

SugarCRM is pulling out both barrels in Japan, announcing today that it has signed an agreement with Softbank Technology to distribute SugarCRM solutions in Japan, including as an ASP/hosted service.

This is exciting news, as relationships are key to cracking the conservative Japanese market, and Softbank Technology (along with existing partner CareBrains) is a great channel into Japan.

But the real news is in who SugarCRM beat to get Softbank's nod:

"We are constantly looking for ways to improve the service we give our customers. We looked at Salesforce, SugarCRM and Siebel, and ultimately decided to go with SugarCRM because of its superior functionality in relation to cost," said Norikazu Ishikawa, President & CEO, Softbank Technology. "We also saw the incredible value of having access to Sugar's source code, which allows us to make very specific customizations to meet our unique needs and those of our customers."

Salesforce was the easy choice, and Oracle/Siebel was a chance to align with one of the world's most successful software companies. But Softbank chose SugarCRM.

Why? Well, you can read Mr. Ishikawa's comments as well as I can, but also consider the following: Softbank must have tremendous confidence that SugarCRM's blend of high functionality at low cost will prove to be a winner in Japan. Softbank wouldn't take that risk otherwise.

This is just one more step in Sugar's global march. It now has full international support (75-plus language packs), 120-plus paying customers in Japan and Asia, and 400 extensions that are currently available for SugarCRM's global community of more than 2,000 paid customers. And to think the company is only three years old. (Salesforce and Siebel have been around longer, but have nowhere near the same amount of localization in their products).

Full disclosure: I am an advisor to SugarCRM, as well as a customer.