Salesforce.com is introducing Chatter Mobile, a way to use the Chatter social-networking platform while on the move. Chatter gives business users Facebook-style communication and collaboration tools.
Salesforce.com has unveiled Chatter Mobile, a way for business users to
monitor Chatter social-networking updates via their Apple, Google or BlackBerry
device. The Chatter platform, with its Facebook-like stream of user posts and
comments, represents Salesforce's bet that businesses will gravitate more and
more toward social networks as tools of collaboration and efficiency.
Chatter Mobile for the iPhone,
iPod Touch, iPad and BlackBerry will be released in late 2010, with
availability on Google Android devices in the first half of 2011. It will be
free for Salesforce CRM and Force.com
Chatter looks and behaves very much like Facebook, with customizable user
profiles and the ability to respond to colleagues' posts. Users can click on a
notice to see more detail about a particular case, and bring colleagues with
additional knowledge and experience into a conversation. It represents the
latest attempt by Salesforce to embrace social networking, after initiatives
such as Salesforce for Twitter, which integrates Twitter into the company's
Service Cloud offering, and Salesforce Answers, which allows a business to post
a question or data to its user community.
Just as Chatter resembles Facebook, Chatter Mobile resembles a typical
social-networking app for smartphones: Streamlined for a smaller screen, it
places the latest user-network updates front and center. Salesforce executives
previewed the iPad version for eWEEK, showing off the app's ability to flip
into landscape mode and filter the most relevant colleagues' feeds. The
BlackBerry version, obviously, differs somewhat in its formatting from the ones
available for Apple's mobile devices.
For Salesforce, Chatter Mobile may help increase the Chatter platform's "stickiness"
with customers; a recent IDC report
suggested that the use of mobile apps is growing at a double-digit rate. That
might help the company fend off any challenges from other enterprise IT companies
in the space, many of which have been baking social-networking applications
into their own platforms.
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff originally
unveiled Salesforce Chatter during a high-profile April presentation in New
York City, suggesting that it was time for enterprise applications to take
inspiration from social-networking-centric properties such as Facebook and YouTube.
"I know more about strangers on Facebook than I do about my own
employees," Benioff joked with the audience. "But that shows there
are more exciting new models we can learn from."
The new models, he added, embrace concepts such as real-time collaboration,
social applications and a social platform-with an emphasis on "a new
mobile Internet revolution that's kind of a transformation from the desktop
At the time, the Chatter beta preview was being tested by more than 500
companies. According to Salesforce executives, more than 20,000 companies now
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.