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CRM software giant wants more third-party applications to be sold and delivered by its own development and distribution platform. This could get interesting.

Salesforce.com wants to be a development and delivery hub not only for its own software but popular third-party applications — such as Dropbox, Evernote, and LinkedIn — and to deliver those apps to whatever mobile or desktop devices the customer prefers. CEO Marc Benioff is slated to talk more about the new Salesforce1 platform Tuesday morning at the company’s Dreamforce show.

The lure for third party ISVs is the ability to reach Salesforce.com’s own 100,000-client user base. The advantage for Salesforce is that it could become the one-stop-shop for all manner of sales, marketing and social applications.

The mobile-first push is new but Salesforce.com has long positioned its Force.com as an app development platform for third parties and AppExchange as an online marketplace for them.

While courting these third-party software vendors, Salesforce has to thread the needle since it competes with a lot of them, taking on Box and Dropbox for example with Chatterbox, and it’s competing with erstwhile partner Okta with its own identity and access management. And in many of these cases, its rivals are more mobile oriented than Salesforce.com itself has been. At 14 years old, the company has become an established “legacy” player.

Marketing campaign dashboard.

Marketing campaign dashboard.

So Salesforce.com wants to be frenemies with smaller niche ISVs — encouraging them to develop on its platform and sell their products on its marketplace, while also competing with them.

The mobile focus is a no brainer in this day and age and it will be increasingly important as the company continues to target CMOs with marketing and social media tools as well. It’s $2.5 billion acquisition of ExactTarget earlier this year and $689 million buy of Buddy Media in 2012 were both made with that audience in mind. But in that marketing suite game it faces competition from Oracle Adobe Systems.

It will be interesting to hear how Benioff will characterize the coopetition that’s cropping up more and more as Salesforce.com tries to be all things to all people.

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  1. It will probably give them a good insight into whom to buy next as well :)

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