And of Dynamics Live CRM SaaS APIs?
Todd Bishop reported today of Microsoft's intended entrance next year into the B2B SaaS market with its announcement at the annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, providing details on pricing and partner revenue-share plans for a hosted service version of Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM:
"Businesses use CRM programs to handle sales, service and other customer interactions. The new "Live" CRM option, to be offered by Microsoft as an online service, is part of its broader effort to expand beyond traditional software licensing into subscription- and advertising-based offerings.
...Microsoft announced plans for a subscription rate of $44 per user each month for the professional version of the new Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM, and $59 for the enterprise version.
Salesforce.com lists prices of $65 for the professional version of its Web-based customer relationship management service, and $125 for the enterprise version. List prices in the online CRM market are commonly in the ballpark of $70 to $100 per user each month, said Liz Herbert, a Forrester Research analyst. "
Phil Wainewright commented on the catching up Microsoft needs to do in this SaaS / CRM space (something I've commented on previously), hence the lower price-point when compared to Salesforce.
"Undercutting Salesforce.com is an obvious ploy for Microsoft to attempt with its CRM Live product, so the pricing it announced today shouldn’t come as any big surprise. Salesforce.com has always priced at the high end of what it could get away with, and it’s benefitted from five years of being allowed to get away with it, plowing the proceeds into an astonishing sales and marketing drive that’s blasted revenues past the half-billion dollar a year mark."
Although Microsoft will be offering Dynamics Live CRM at no charge during an early access beta starting this year, it is unlikely they will go "live" until the second half of 2008 (I'm speculating), presumably once the "Windows Live Data Centres" are ready to do so...a brand we are promised we'll hear a lot more of in the future.
Salesforce.com responded. In a phone call with Todd Bishop, VP of Corporate Strategy, Bruce Francis, took a typically aggressive tone (that is, typical of Salesforce.com, not Bruce) in reacting to the news:
"What it looks like is that Microsoft is just marking down an inferior product to what customers are actually paying right now. Also, one thing that I haven't seen is the url where I can sign up for a 30-day trial. ... I know a great multi-tenant on-demand service when I see one, and I see more of them every day. ... We could talk for hours about all the great on-demand services that are out there that I can sign up and use. Where is Microsoft? Microsoft has a price list, not a product."
But where is the news of Dynamics Live CRM web / SaaS APIs? No mention of these anywhere that I've seen, but if Microsoft wants to take on Salesforce.com they'll need a strong story here - the latter has a mature programmable surface today with a fairly healthy ecosystem of developers.
It's one thing to have on-premises software that can be extended and integrated with other software and services through SOAP APIs behind your firewall (Dynamics has a healthy story in this department today), but it is quite another (increasingly necessary) thing to provide APIs as part of a hosted SaaS service. I would have thought the provisioning of SaaS APIs would have been a central component of Microsoft's messaging today so am a little surprised by its omission.