Opinions on the Salesforce.com AppExchange development platform and its accompanying Apex programming environment differ dramatically, from Nicholas Carr's prediction that it could herald "a big tsunami in business computing" to an IT Week columnist's terse contention that "the way in is easier than the way out" for folks using the platform.
Of course, Salesforce.com competitors don't think much of it, with SAP recently insisting that the SaaS provider was "still a one-trick pony." It would appear, however, that the "one trick" criticism won't be valid for long.
Salesforce just announced that customers will no longer have to purchase its core CRM product to use the AppExchange. Some observers lauded the move, with an AMR Research analyst noting that the SaaS giant can sell more seats and count the royalty payments without having to go to the trouble of actually building applications.
It opens up markets beyond the CRM space in which Salesforce has been playing, and conceivably gives Salesforce more of an "in" with large enterprises that have been put off by the difficulty in customizing Salesforce apps. While most of the existing 575 AppExchange applications are related to CRM, the company's senior director of platform product marketing says that project management is the fastest-growing category in the Exchange.
Of course, it also pits Salesforce more directly against giants like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. We wouldn't be surprised to hear that Larry Ellison wants to crush -- er, buy -- the company.