SAN FRANCISCO: Salesforce.com has launched a new version of its Chatter social networking tool for businesses, which will let non-Salesforce users access the service at no cost.
The firm unveiled the update at its Dreamforce user event in San Francisco. The latest edition will let Salesforce users already signed up to Chatter extend invitations to colleagues across the company, meaning that all employees can join the corporate Chatter network for free. The previous version was available only to Salesforce paid-for users.
Robin Daniels, director of product marketing at Salesforce, cited the example of recruitment firm Kelly Services, which has 1,500 customer relationship management (CRM) paid-for users, and 7,000 Chatter users.
The idea behind the move is to extend social collaboration across the enterprise, but also to hopefully add more customers to Salesforce's paid-for applications.
Chatter was launched in the summer, and has already been rolled out at more than 60,000 companies, according to Salesforce, including Dell and Caesars Entertainment.
Chatter Free users do not get access to the full functionality of the tool. They can share files, post status updates, join groups and access feeds, but they do not have access to data held in paid-for applications such as Salesforce's CRM product.
The next version due out in February will open Chatter to non-Salesforce organisations. Chatter.com will let firms access the same level of functionality as the Chatter Free service, such as sharing files and creating groups, but the difference is that it will be available to companies that have no Salesforce products.
Daniels said that the firm hopes that companies new to Salesforce will then migrate onto the paid-for versions of the service to get access to the full functionality.
Also at Dreamforce, Salesforce announced availability of the Chatter app for BlackBerry users. This joins the dedicated iPhone and iPad app that was launched last month.
A version for Android devices is due for release in the first quarter of 2011.
However, there are no plans for a dedicated Windows Phone Chatter app.
"If we hear enough customers asking for a certain app, we'll develop it," Daniels said.
"That's why we had the iPhone first, then the BlackBerry, and then Android. It's in priority order for our customers. But there has been no call for Windows Phone."
Daniels added that Salesforce "likes to drink its own champagne", and as such is providing all its sales staff with iPads.
Salesforce employees are also allowed to choose their own work mobile device, whether a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android, demonstrating the IT department's flexibility over user choice.
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