For years, <a href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/SAAS/?p=334">the rumor was that Google was going to buy Salesforce.com</a> as a way of breaking into the enterprise space.

Michael Hickins, Contributor

September 3, 2009

2 Min Read

For years, the rumor was that Google was going to buy Salesforce.com as a way of breaking into the enterprise space.The thinking made a certain amount of sense:

Salesforce.com had proven it could not only compete in the SMB space everyone expected it to occupy, but that it could move upmarket as well, winning big enterprise contracts, most notably in the financial services sector; Google was barely treading water with its enterprise search appliance and until recently didn't even have enterprise labels for any of its online services; and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff never failed to mention Google, always in the most glowing terms, in explaining the SaaS paradigm that his company embodied.

The companies had a mutual admiration society going (much like Apple and Google until recently), similar infrastructure needs, and a common enemy in Microsoft.

Now, however, Salesforce is gunning for some of the same people who are natural Google users. According to InformationWeek's Antone Gonsalves:

Features [of the new service] include the ability to store and manage contacts and accounts and track e-mail communications from Microsoft Outlook, Google Gmail and Yahoo Mail. In addition, users can run pre-configured and customized reports on contacts, accounts and associated activities.

There's a pleasing symmetry to this development as well; Google has used its mind-share among consumers to move into the enterprise space (a path followed by a number of technologies, like instant messaging, social networks, and wikis). Now Salesforce is trying the reverse -- using its solid reputation in the workplace to target home office businesses and individuals, with consumers an obvious next step.

And contrary to Google, outages at Salesforce have been very few and far between.

Now, maybe you're asking if my mother needs a customer relationship management application. Well, having seen her take to IM and social networking, and taking note of Ken Olsen's notoriously unprophetic comment about computers in the home, I wouldn't bet against it.

Should Google be worried? Of course not -- the service can hardly be considered competitive at this point, and is in many ways complimentary. But by targeting individual users, Salesforce is encroaching on Google's turf, and once it establishes a beachhead there, it opens a lot of possibilities for itself. As we just saw with the recent Apple-Google break-up over the Google Voice iPhone app, friendly co-opetition can turn nasty in a hurry.

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