CRM With Google Flair?

By David Needle
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Applications software vendor Etelos showed it has a little bit of Google in it with the beta availability of CRM for Google.

The software, which takes the look of the search giant's standard search interface homepage, is available in a hosted or on-premises server version. Etelos founder and CEO, Jeff Danny Kolke, said his company built on one of its existing CRM applications and took advantage of Google's open APIs to create something new.

"We've always been the little guy integrating with other apps. Companies choose us because our applications are commonly open source and developers can tweak them," Kolke said. "With CRM for Google, we're letting users start from a place that's very familiar to most of them."

Available in Personal, Professional and Enterprise editions, CRM for Google includes contact, content and task-management features, appointment settings and customizable modules.

For now the product offers "limited integration" with Google Calendar and Google Spreadsheets. Further integration with those apps, as well as Gmail and Google Docs, is planned. Kolke said Etelos supports .Net, PHP and Java for companies looking to integrate CRM for Google with other systems.

The Personal edition is free and ad supported, and the Professional ($25/month/user) and Enterprise editions ($50/month/user) are required to share activities and tasks with other people.

"It's very impressive how fast they were able to do this, even building off an existing application," Jeff Kaplan, managing director of Thinkstrategies, said. "It's another reason for the folks in the Seattle area [i.e. Microsoft] to be a little scared."

Last week Google unveiled Google Apps Premier Edition, a suite of hosted applications targeted at the same enterprise market traditionally dominated by Microsoft Office.

Google Apps Premier Edition, which will cost businesses $50 per user account per year, includes Google Calendar, as well as the company's Gmail e-mail application and its Google Talk instant messaging client. It also includes Google Docs and Spreadsheets, word processing and spreadsheet applications geared for collaboration between users.

Kolke said he was encouraged by mid-level folks at Google to develop CRM for Google, though his company has no formal ties with Google. Analyst Kaplan notes that there isn't any reason Google couldn't develop something similar.

It also isn't clear whether the search engine giant will approve the use of its trademarked name for the product. Google couldn't be reached at press time for comment.

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Adapted from internetnews.com.
This article was originally published on March 02, 2007

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