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CEOs use their quarterly conference calls to hype their own company and products, so investors have to treat them as PR. With that caveat in mind, this "speech" by Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) CEO Mark Benioff in the prepared remarks of his call last night (see the full CRM transcript) is particularly important for the software industry:

Salesforce is built on a revolutionary new service-based operating system called AppExchange, that has been called the eBay of enterprise software. The AppExchange has created a whole new business and technology model for partners and ISV’s to build and sell on-demand applications.

InfoWorld, in a March 20th article called “Software Service: the Next Big Thing” said:

“If any one venture stands squarely at the intersection of wild Web 2.0 mash-ups and more conventional software-service operating systems, it is Salesforce.com’s AppExchange.”

The AppExchange is the first platform to offer hundreds -- and we soon hope thousands -- of on-demand applications that span a multitude of industries, geographies, and languages.

It allows customers to extend Salesforce with a variety of extensions from companies like One Source and Harte-Hanks, and Google, and also introduces new applications to industries such as real estate, human resources, project management, manufacturing, from a variety of established ISV’s and start-ups.

We have seen a tremendous level of creativity and excitement across the globe from Japan to India to here in the United States, and it is only just beginning for the AppExchange.

Of last count, there were 214 applications on the AppExchange, and the numbers are growing every day. Since the AppExchange went live in January, our customers have installed more than 8,600 applications. This not only makes salesforce.com more pervasive throughout our customers' operations, but more strategic to them as a total information management platform as well.

This quarter, we also introduced AppExchange Mobile via our acquisition of Sendia in April, which allows our customers to deploy many of our AppExchange applications to virtually any device, including many mobile devices.

This new write-once, run-anywhere capability allows our customers to fully deploy their applications to the PC browser or wireless device of their choice, including the popular BlackBerry. We have already provisioned more than 5,000 subscribers on AppExchange Mobile in its first few weeks.

Next week, on May 24th, we will be hosting our first ever AppForce conference here in San Francisco at the Sheraton Palace Hotel -- the AppExchange User and Developer Conference. The focus of the event will be to show partners, customers and developers how to build, publish and sell applications on the AppExchange.

We will also have a large group of venture capitalists at the event, because they now see the AppExchange as the emerging on-demand platform of choice. Over 50 ISV’s are scheduled to display AppExchange applications.

Today, salesforce.com has over 22,700 customers, an increase of 2,200 customers from our previous quarter, and the largest number of customers added in any quarter in our history. These customers represent 444,000 subscribers — a 45,000 subscriber increase from our record-setting fourth quarter, and an increase of 177,000 subscribers from the first quarter last year.

Source: Is Salesforce.com the Enterprise Software Platform of the Future? (CRM)