Has Salesforce.com's Chatter product not lived up to the adoption level CEO Marc Benioff hoped it would, or is the company just trying to compete with the likes of Yammer? In whatever case, Chatter -- a.k.a "Facebook for the Enterprise" -- is now a freemium service.
Chatter hit the market in private beta last February and went public shorty after. The Facebook-like solution provides employees with a realtime feed of the activity in their company, and allows users to follow people, accounts, documents, and data just as they would in their social network:
Chatter Central screenshot
Today the most of the basic features are being handed out for free:
- Status Updates
- Real-Time Feeds
- File Sharing
- Chatter Mobile
Meanwhile, the jazzier stuff (ability to follow accounts and contracts, a dashboard, reports, better security, integration with AppExchange, etc.) will be available at the ol' US$15 price under Chatter Plus.
Why is Chatter going for free? Well, many experts say it should have been offered at no cost from the very beginning. For example, Kevin Spain, an Emergence Capital partner and investor in both Yammer and Salesforce, recently called on the CRM company to offer Chatter for free in order to successfully compete with Yammer.
Whether or not going freemium will lend Chatter the boost it needs remains to be seen, but so for the competition doesn't seem to be too worried:
“The fact that Salesforce has to copy Yammer even though it has 2,000 sales reps is like Goliath dropping his sword and armor and chasing after David with a sling-shot,” boasted David Sacks, CEO of Yammer, when his company landed another US$ 25 million in funding. "Other people have tried to copy our model, but aren't showing similar growth. Salesforce may find that it's more difficult than it looks."