Stealing a page from the Apple iTunes playbook, Salesforce.com announced on Thursday a $0.99 pricing model.
The introductory subscription pricing is on a per-log-in basis and is meant to accelerate the adoption of the SaaS (software as a service) model into such areas as human resources, employee expense and vacation requests, and job recruiting, where an infrequent usage model would not justify a monthly subscription fee.
“In a category like vacation requests, HR may live in that but every employee is not accessing it every day. This is for a new community,” said Ariel Kelman, senior director for platform product marketing.
The $0.99 pricing will be good for one year and will rise to $5 per log-in with a maximum five log-ins per user per month starting in 2009.
Salesforce also announced a new Cloud Computing Architecture which Kelman characterized as “development as a service.”
Dubbed the Force.com Development-as-a Service, the technology also includes the year-long .99 cent pricing model and uses the Force.com development platform which will also offer a .99 cent per log in service for developers.
Development-as-a-Service will give users a set of development tools in the cloud and a metadata API which so that developers can access code and the database schema.
“This is about accessing your definitions of your custom application,” said Kelman.
As Kelman describes it, the new service also enables developers to use the Force.com IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which sits in a hosted environment.
What Salesforce is doing is adding the other pieces to their Force.com development environment that it needs to appeal to an enterprise audience, said Rebecca Wetteman, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.
“The goal with Platform-as-a-Service was to be an on-demand platform developer. Having an API to develop code and having an environment where developers can share, manage, and track code in a collaborative way goes a long way toward attracting those enterprise users,” said Wetteman.
Because it is a Web application it also will make collaboration between developers easier. To that end, Salesforce is introducing Force.com Code Share.
According to Kelman, when development takes place in the cloud, developers can connect to open source communities. For example, developers can log onto Project Hosting on Google Code and use Code Share to collaborate on building Force.com applications, Kelman said.
The Force.com Development-as-a-Service tools are available in developer preview. No date was given for a final version.