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Salesforce buy extends reach to mobile devices

Web-based applications company makes its first acquisition as part of a new mobile strategy.

Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
Mike Ricciuti
2 min read
Salesforce.com said on Tuesday that it has acquired mobile-tech maker Sendia to help it deliver on-demand services to handheld PCs and cell phones.

The company plans to use Sendia's wireless software delivery tools to enable a new service, called AppExchange Mobile, designed to simplify the development of software for mobile devices, such as BlackBerry and Treo handhelds.

Salesforce said it bought Sendia for $15 million in cash, marking the first acquisition in the company's seven-year history. Sendia, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., has 35 employees.

"Our vision is create once and run everywhere," Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com chief executive, said during a press conference. "Developers can build applications once and then publish them to AppExchange and AppExchange Mobile. They can deploy the apps on laptops, Windows Mobile or Palm devices."

The deal will allow Salesforce to more fully extend its customer relationship management service to mobile devices, as the popularity of wireless services grows. The company has been relying on partners to provide mobile services.

Salesforce.com has 90 partnerships with companies that supply slightly more than half of the 209 applications on the AppExchange service.

In addition, customer- and partner-developed software that runs on Salesforce's service through a program called AppExchange will now be available to mobile devices. Sixty of the AppExchange partners have technology that is ready for use on a Blackberry or other mobile device, said Clarence So, a Salesforce.com senior vice president.

The company has roughly 14 wireless solution partners that Salesforce.com expects to continue using, despite the Sendia deal, So said.

Salesforce is a leading proponent of the on-demand model, in which software makers deliver their wares over the Internet for a monthly fee. Benioff said that model is bringing about the "end of software," as most companies know it, and supplanting older client-server software.

Other software makers, including Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, have become more involved in Web-based services for large companies.

As the popularity of Salesforce's service has grown in the past few years, the company has experienced some growing pains in the form of occasional service outages. The company has said it's working to bolster its back-end technology to minimize such disruptions in the future.

CNET News.com's Dawn Kawamoto contributed to this report.