Salesforce.com (CRM) keeps changing the names, which makes it somewhat confusing if you are trying to cover the company’s quest to upend the software industry. This week salesforce.com (the publicly-traded company, with the ticker symbol “CRM”) introduced Force.com, the new moniker for the salesforce (the applications–sales, services, marketing, partner, content and a new one to be introduced Monday) platform (see chart below), which is based on Apex (the code running on the salesforce.com/salesforce/force servers).
Note that www.force.com resolves to the salesforce.com home page.
Coincidentally, George Lucas, of “May the force be with you” “Star Wars” fame, will be participating in a keynote panel at the salesforce.com Dreamforce 07 conference this week in San Francisco.
I’m not sure what the company paid for the URL, but it wasn’t cheap and took four years of negotiation to obtain, according to Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com (ticker symbol CRM). He told me that force.com is a “a strong platform name to umbrella all of our innovations.”
Salesforce.com is claiming that Force.com “delivers the application development power of .NET or J2EE without software infrastructure,” and has 44,000 custom applications. It basically allows developers to create and run their code on salesforce software and hardware infrastructure.
Force.com also has a baby brother or sister, Visualforce, a tool for building custom user interfaces that Larry Dignan wrote about last week after the news escaped prior to the salesforce.com Dreamforce 07 conference.
Salesforce.com, the company, has a parallel quest to simplify its branding, and overcome its overabundance of prefixed forces–Sforce, Appforce, salesforce, Successforce, Dreamforce, Force.com, etc.
I expect that Apex will go away at some point and be called Forcecode and that the company will become Force, Inc. (FOR ticker symbol), signifying a graduation from its salesforce automation origins to an application platform and the passing on of the outdated .com appended to the company name.
It will take more than marketing and name changes for the Force to be with salesforce.com as SAP (SAP), Business Objects (BOBJ), Oracle (ORCL), Microsoft (MSFT) and others invest more heavily in on demand services. But, Benioff and company continue to lead the charge.
In a blog post, Ken Rudin, a former Siebel executive and now CEO of Lucid Era, which develops on demand business intelligence software that also integrates with Force.com, described the challenges of the well-funded newcomers.
1. (Fear of) Cannibalization
2. Addiction to License Fees
3. Channel Friction
4. A Product Feature Set vs. A Service Mindset
In time, they will overcome those challenges. Benioff’s hope is by the time his larger competitors selling enterprise software have unencumbered themselves, saleforce.com/force.com will have built its on demand island into a continent.