Update: NetSuite aims hosted apps at software vendors

The company may have carved itself a niche against on-demand CRM leader Salesforce.com

NetSuite has launched a suite of hosted business applications designed specifically for software companies, it announced Tuesday.

Called NetSuite-Software Company Edition, the suite includes CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) capabilities tailored specifically for the software industry, the company said.

For example, its financial applications address software industry accounting needs, such as the ability to bill customers based on software usage, and to create customized invoices according to license agreement and service contracts, NetSuite said.

Its CRM tools can track sales from an initial lead through the completion of a deal. Features have been included for companies using a software-as-a-service model, such as the ability to give salespeople a quota for gross billings.

The suite also allows executives to monitor their company's performance using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and Extensible Markup Language) dashboards, which give a summary of key business metrics. The product includes 15 preconfigured dashboards.

The suite combines functions that previously required applications from several different vendors, according to NetSuite. It's available immediately priced at $2,999 per month, with a per-user fee of $99 per month, NetSuite said.

The cost is a little higher than NetSuite's normal price points, but that's expected considering it's a very specific service, said David Bradshaw, principal analyst at Ovum Ltd. in London.

NetSuite's offering for the software industry is "utterly logical" since the high-tech industry has typically been an early adopter of its own innovations, particular CRM products, Bradshaw said. NetSuite said it has been using its own services.

Smaller businesses will benefit from tools that aid in revenue recognition, a complex calculation of reconciling different incomes in relation to profits and losses, Bradshaw said.

NetSuite may have carved itself a niche against online business applications leader Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com's view "tends to be that they don't want to get into releasing industry-specific versions of their software," Bradshaw said.

Based in San Mateo, California, NetSuite was founded in 1998 by Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison and another former Oracle executive, Evan Goldberg. Ellison remains the majority owner in the company, while Goldberg is its chairman and chief technology officer.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.