Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) said it’s releasing a new version of its software for tablet computers and unifying its social-media marketing products into a single suite, as it races to stay ahead of new market entrants.
Larger rivals Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and SAP AG (SAP) are moving onto Salesforce’s turf using acquisitions, aiming to take part of the market for business software delivered over the Internet, estimated to be worth $49 billion -- up 25 percent from last year -- according to a Sept. 10 Forrester Research Inc. report.
Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff unveiled the new products today at the company’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, where Salesforce is based. Benioff also plans to outline features of a new human resources software called Work.com, and an online storage product called Chatterbox.
“What he needs to convince investors of is that he’s got enough market opportunity to keep growing north of 30 percent” a year in sales, said Pat Walravens, an analyst at JMP Securities LLC in San Francisco. “He needs to enter new markets.”
Salesforce, which sells software over the Internet instead of as a packaged product, will offer its customer management tools via Salesforce Touch on Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad and other tablets using HTML 5, a standard that delivers richer graphics and features over the Web. Its new Marketing Cloud software deploys social-media tools for companies to collect and share information, Salesforce said in a statement.
Salesforce is working to annex new areas of online software for businesses. At the conference, which runs through Sept. 21, Benioff plans to show how the new Marketing Cloud software combines functions from the acquisitions of Radian6 Technologies Inc. and Buddy Media Inc. into a single suite for marketing on social-media sites such as Facebook Inc. (FB) and Twitter Inc.
It’s also extending its Chatter business social networking software for use in customer service scenarios and through supply chains. In mobile applications, Salesforce is delivering its Touch applications after a delay. Announced a year ago at the last Dreamforce conference, they were due to be delivered early this year.
In one presentation, Benioff showed how General Electric Co. (GE) is outfitting jet engines and other equipment to broadcast status updates its engineers can monitor. GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, speaks at the conference tomorrow.
“They could have a social network around an aircraft engine,” Benioff said. “It was an unusual idea.”
Competition is also intensifying. Oracle, SAP and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have been buying companies that offer business management tools over the Web, gaining traction in an area Salesforce pioneered.
SAP in February bought online HR software maker SuccessFactors Inc. for $3.4 billion, and Microsoft in July bought Yammer Inc. for $1.2 billion to gain business social networking software. Oracle on Sept. 17 said it would buy SelectMinds Inc., a maker of online recruiting software, for an undisclosed amount.
Workday Inc. (WDAY), which filed last month for its initial public offering, recently landed a deal with Google Inc. to supply human resources software for tens of thousands of employees at the search engine provider.
Last month, Salesforce forecast profit for the fiscal third quarter ending in October that missed analysts’ estimates as the company increases sales and marketing spending.
Shares of Salesforce rose 1.1 percent to $157.98 at the close in New York, and are up 56 percent this year.
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