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Oracle Takes on Salesforce.com

By Reuters  |  Posted 03-11-2008 Print

Expanded online offerings aimed at salespeople work with BlackBerries, Google and Yahoo sites.  

Oracle said on Tuesday it has created Web-based software designed to help salespeople win more business, its latest attempt to overtake its smaller rival that leads in the field, Salesforce.com.

The new programs from the world's No. 2 publicly held software company adds browser-based technologies and can be customized to run on Research in Motion's BlackBerry communications devices and on personalized Google and Yahoo Web pages.

Business users have requested those features because they have gotten comfortable using technology from companies like Google and Yahoo to do Web searches, buy goods over the Internet, get driving directions and handle myriad personal tasks, analysts said.

Now they want access to the same technology at work. The need for traditional software makers to embrace the use of Web-delivered software as a service and make their products look more like snazzy Facebook or Google Web sites was underscored when Salesforce.com won one of the biggest sales force automation software deals of 2007.

Salesforce.com beat out Oracle to provide software to 30,000 employees of Citigroup. Salesforce.com also has 25,000 Merrill Lynch subscribers.

"Certainly when you get into the Merrill Lynches of the world, Oracle wants to be there," said AMR Research analyst Rob Bois.

Other major software makers are also going after Salesforce.com's sweet spot.

Microsoft Corp, the world's largest software maker, introduced a trial version of CRM Dynamics Live last year and hopes to have the final product ready within a few months.

Germany's SAP, the No. 3 publicly held software maker, says its product will be out this summer.

The product from Oracle is easier to use than a previous version and is designed to run seamlessly with popular Web programs from companies including Google and Yahoo.

Oracle responded to a frequent demand from business users -- that software designed to run on BlackBerry devices and mobile phones be streamlined so that they don't have to spend a lot of time thumbing through tiny menus to get to useful information, said Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleus Research.


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