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Salesforce.com Aims Service At Individuals, Smallest Businesses

The service, priced at $9 per user per month, allows users to store and manage contacts and accounts online.
Salesforce.com introduced its first product for individuals and very small businesses, offering them the ability to store and manage contacts and accounts online.

The Contact Manager Edition, introduced Wednesday, costs $9 per user per month and is available for as few as one or two users.

Features 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.

The service can be customized to track specific data and is pre-integrated with with Google Apps, which is Google's online document collaboration service.

Salesforce.com typically targets its service to small and medium-sized businesses and departments of larger corporations. However, the software-as-a-service vendor has decided to take its products downstream as competition intensifies.

Marc Benioff, chief executive of the company, told a conference call last month following the release of financial results that Oracle and Microsoft were working hard to win business with their own subscription-based CRM software services. "We are seeing our competitors do just about anything to try to win a deal from us," he said.

Nevertheless, Salesforce.com has managed to stay ahead of the pack. The company reported a year-over-year revenue increase of 20% for the second fiscal quarter ended July 31. Net income rose 112%.

CRM is popular with companies trying out a hosted software service, because it requires the least integration with on-premise software systems. As a result, traditional software vendors typically start with CRM in beefing up a presence in cloud computing.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an analysis of the current state of service assurance. Download the report here (registration required).