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Salesforce.com releases no-cost 'lite' mobile application

The software has support for iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices, but not Android yet

By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service
April 07, 2009 12:20 AM ET

IDG News Service - Hoping to drive customer retention, Salesforce.com on Tuesday unveiled a mobile application that is available to all users at no charge.

Salesforce.com Mobile Lite is not as full-featured as the on-demand CRM vendor's full-fledged mobile application, which is included with an Unlimited subscription but costs an extra $50 per user per month for Professional and Enterprise edition subscribers.

For example, while Mobile Lite users can look at accounts and respond to leads, the application doesn't support custom objects.

"We look at mobile as another way to increase customer success and the proliferation and usage of our application," said Chuck Dietrich, vice president and general manager of mobile. Some customers may also choose to upgrade to the full version over time, he added.

Mobile Lite will initially support iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices, but despite Salesforce.com's close ties to Google, Android support isn't yet available.

Salesforce.com is "working closely" with Google on that capability, according to Dietrich, but he declined to provide a release date. In any event, Salesforce.com customers are primarily using the other mobile platforms, he said.

Overall, Mobile Lite is "a cool idea" and a good way to keep customers in the fold, but Salesforce.com likely has a longer-term strategy in mind, said analyst Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research.

"They're going to build up demand for mobile apps this way, and I suspect that down the road, they'll have some way to monetize that increased demand," Pombriant said.

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