I recently had the privilege of attending a seminar run by Salesforce.com in which they were talking about the SaaS market in a wider sense.
Don't get me wrong, they want everyone to use Salesforce, and they are clearly (it was palpable) evangelistic about SaaS. What really struck me were the dynamics of the event. They didn't even show us Salesforce.com CRM, they barely mentioned it except for the fact pushing the latest spring release.
What they did push was Appexchange and Apex. A lot. In fact to the point where it got me to thinking. They bandied around some statistics like 40% of the 70 million daily transactions through the Salesforce platform go through their API.
That is to say that nearly half of all data going through Salesforce isn't people using their application.
Now (and i'm guessing) i think that this whole sales push was related to (possibly) one of the major objections is from larger companies (an increasing target group) who have already gone through the pain of implementing SAP financials etc. So in a classic web 2.0 play sales force has gone, "well hell, why don't you keep using your behemoth, just add this little API and port all the existing (and very valuable data) into SalesForce". Brilliant, objection covered. Nice
The other thing i finally got some insight into was the Apex development platform. I'm told its proprietary, i'm told that that is the resident evil… What ever, what i did see what a template based application builder that already works seamlessly with Salesforce, and can be billed by them and was so simple i nearly rolled up my sleaves and had a go.
A really interesting play that i know others have talked about before, what i didn't have a handle on previously was the success of it todate.