Freshdesk takes swing at rival Zendesk with HTML5 mobile app

Freshdesk is trying to make its lack of native mobile apps an advantage

Online help-desk software vendor Freshdesk is hoping to draw a fresh contrast between itself and rival Zendesk with a new HTML5-based mobile application, announced Tuesday.

Freshdesk and Zendesk are known for their feud centering on whether Freshdesk, a newer company than Zendesk, was a "ripoff" based on the use of the word "desk" in its name. Apparently seeing the value in any type of publicity, whether negative or not, Freshdesk put up a website detailing the blow-by-blow.

With Tuesday's announcement, Freshdesk is hoping to turn the conversation back to its application functionality and product strategy.

The FreshMobile HTML5 application gives service agents access from any type of mobile device, according to Freshdesk. They also "no longer need to update or install new native apps" nor need they be "chained to a PC," it added.

FreshMobile offers users the ability to create and save templates that help them quickly resolve common trouble-ticket issues, rather than type the same response again and again on their mobile devices, a process that can be "clumsy and difficult," according to the company. The application also can auto-suggest answers from knowledge bases.

Meanwhile, Zendesk has already offered a series of native mobile applications for Apple iPads and iPhones, Android devices and BlackBerries. It also recently launched a Windows Phone application.

While Freshdesk is positioning its HTML5 application as an advantage over Zendesk, that's not quite the case, said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research.

"I think HTML5 gives you a broad entry point, but most folks are also then optimizing for [specific] devices as well," he said. "You can't ignore iOS in the long run. This is probably just one step in the long view of [Freshdesk's] road map."

Zendesk and Freshdesk compete with traditional customer-service software vendors as well as the likes of Salesforce.com's Desk.com, a product based on its acquisition of Assistly. Desk.com has offered an HTML5 mobile experience for some time.

The market is ripe for further acquisitions, with platform vendors such as IBM and Oracle in the running, as well as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, Wang said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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