Sooner or later, Salesforce.com was going to make an idiot of itself with its tedious habit of creating brands by sticking "-force" on the end of any and every word.
To start with, when the company dreamt up the sforce label on its API, it was a neat and subtle piece of sub-branding. Supportforce seemed logical enough as the name for its customer services offering, and I suppose you can forgive the marketing department for picking Dreamforce as the name of the annual user conference. But things started to go downhill with Customforce and then later the really quite lame-sounding Multiforce (which is supposed to elbow Microsoft out of its dominance of the client; great idea, shame about the name).
Now the company has descended into the realms of the ridiculous with — wait for it — Smashforce. This is a toolkit that helps developers do 'mash-ups' between salesforce.com and other web applications and services. There's nothing wrong with the concept: mash-ups are all the rage amongst web-savvy developers at the moment, and have great potential to make on-demand applications even more compelling alternatives to conventional desktop software. But Salesforce is hardly in the vanguard of innovation with its toolkit, which as Dan Farber noted in his blog the other day, "is more of an extension of sforce and customforce than anything new or innovative from the company's labs." I mean, even Tibco has an AJAX toolkit (AJAX, or asynchronous Java script with XML, being one of the must-use technologies for a really good mash-up). Meanwhile, Salesforce rival NetSuite has already released a new version of its application that actually builds AJAX into its user interface.
There's no question that salesforce.com needs to support this wave of highly innovative web development, but the company should just bring out the toolkit and drop the Smashforce name. For me, it conjures up images of the Keystone Cops — a madcap crew in desperate pursuit of a careening bandwagon that's in danger of outpacing them.