While salesforce.com is integrating with Google AdWords, Etelos is integrating its on demand CRM platform with Google Apps, Microsoft Live, Netvibes and Pageflakes. The company launched its Developer Edition, which allows developers to build custom CRM applications and widgets and distribute them across a variety of hosted platforms.
Etelos is taking advantage of the blurring between consumer and business use on the Web, represented by the consumption of business applications in consumer, ad-supported environments.
Etelos CEO Danny Kolke believes that the future of applications is in platforms that allow for rapid development, customization, verticalization and support services built on top of infrastructure, delivered online or offline and via a variety of hosting options, including local and regional ISPs.
That vision isn't much different from what salesforce.com or other Web platform providers espouse. Kolke is going after the small businesses primarily, and offering more options for composing and distributing applications. "The mass of the Google market wants cheap and free applications. Salesforce.com, for example, is not making the tranistion to free or ad-supported editions," Kolke said. However, Etelos doesn't have the cost and management advantages of a multitenant architecture--every deployment is a unique installation.
"Our growth strategy is about partnering with the community of developers and dealing with the headaches of getting applications to work on various platforms, scaling the servers and managing distribution, versioning, licensing enforcement and reporting," said Kolke. In the last three months, Etelos has more than 3,000 businesses and 32,000 users signed up for CRM for Google, Kolke said. He expects to have 100,000 users of CRM for Google by the summer.
Like saleforce.com, Etelos has marketplace for add-on applications or modules, which can also be marketed through the Google Gadget Catalog and other partner sites. Developers can set up their own licensing programs and receive royalties.
Developers can purchase an application license for $35 per month, including hosting, and list it in the Etelos Store at whatever price. Etelos keeps $9 per user per month per download, and developers get the rest of the purchase price. The monthly fee is discontinued when an application has 50 users.
Etelos has its own development environment and also OpenDev, which allows developers to use any IDE to customize the Web applications and supports PHP, .Net (using Mono), and JSP. Etelos also has its own "plain English" scripting languages for non-technical developers. Kolke said Etelos has signed up more than 850 developers.
"Our biggest difference from salesforce.com is our emphasis on flexibility of where the data is and the choices in building and licensing apps," Kolke said. "SugarCRM, for example, is integrated the Etelos stack. The value add is that developers can add on other modules to SugarCRM. For example, our Apps on a Plane, which provides offline access, is integrated with SugarCRM. It's basically a CRM mashup application environment, and we solve the code distribution problem. We have people building medical records applications on our platform, and they can distribute them in a variety of ways."
Most of the applications are vertical in nature, Kolke said, and Etelos have a review process for applications that are submitted to the Etelos Store.
Etelos has 19 full time employees and 10 contractors, and has been building its platform over the last six years. The notion of a CRM mashup environment, or for that matter a collaboration or business analytics mashup environment, is just starting to take root. What's clear is the applications are no longer monolithic black boxes, and Web services and APIs will rule the planet. The challenge will be in keeping loosely coupled composite applications from turning into hairballs.
See also: Coverage of Etelos by Jeff Nolan