Is Oracle Watching? First Google/Salesforce Product Aimed at SMBs


The first new product of the freshly announced partnership between Google and Salesforce.com is already here, and it's one that is squarely aimed at SMBs.


According to an InformationWeek article, a new Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords will replace Salesforce Team Edition as the entry-level Salesforce product for SMBs.


Integration between the two companies' capabilities is evident from the outset, with a combination of Google's search bar and Salesforce's log-in screen, and continues throughout the system. For example, if folks click on a Google ad, they will be taken to a form where they can request more information -- and the data they enter will automatically show up in Salesforce's system.


Group Edition users can also zero in to find out what lead prospects were searching on before they clicked an ad, can map visits to prospects using Google Maps (something that's been possible since 2005, thanks to a Google Maps/Salesforce mash-up), send them a Gmail, or transmit a copy of a lease or contract to a customer via Google Docs.


It's a likely bet that similar capabilities will show up soon in other Salesforce products, Salesforce's VP of corporate strategy tells InformationWeek, and it's even possible that Salesforce could ultimately offer ad-supported versions of some of its products.


As the non-exclusive reseller of the Google AdWords platform, Salesforce will keep all proceeds from the sale of Group Edition and also share a nominal portion of any Google AdWords sales, according to a ZDNet article about the deal.


A promotion currently under way offers the first year of Group Edition priced at $600 for five users, half the standard rate.


The partnership could help gain Google gain added traction in the enterprise, which so far has remained largely resistant to its charms. As IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle warns, it could also earn the unwelcome attention of Oracle, which "doesn't play nice and is incredibly aggressive."As Enderle notes: "Salesforce.com would be vastly easier to take out, at least on paper, than PeopleSoft was."


Google has already earned some unwelcome attention of its own from Microsoft, which recently announced it would pay companies to make its Windows Live search engine the default on their workplace PCs.


It's a shame, opines ZDNet blogger Joshua Greenbaum, that the two companies can't create an interface similar to SAP's Duet, in which a Google Docs spreadsheet or even Gmail could connect users to the Salesforce system and its App Exchange partners.


Without this truly sophisticated capability, which he thinks the companies lack the technical chops to pull off, Greenbaum believes the partnership will be "massively underwhelming."