"Google and Salesforce have always had similar models and philosophies about delivering innovations made possible by the Internet," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement.
"This is a foundation that was built on common values," said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Monday during a speech, citing various philanthropic activities by the two companies as well as their technological and business alignment. "That's what today is all about. It's about Salesforce and Google coming together."
The joint announcement drew a stinging rebuke from an executive at Microsoft, a rival vendor to both companies.
"The reality is, this is a belated recognition by Salesforce of the importance of mixing CRM with personal productivity," said Brad Wilson, general manager of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM division. "We don't see this as in any way revolutionary."
Microsoft's Dynamics CRM customers have been able to access CRM data inside their Outlook e-mail clients, work with such information inside an Excel spreadsheet and then "push that data right back into the CRM system," Wilson argued.
Google, Microsoft and Salesforce are engaged in a sort of three-way dance. Google's online applications have been characterized as a potential threat to Microsoft's dominant client-side Office productivity suite. Salesforce and Microsoft have competed for CRM customers, a battle that is set to escalate soon as Microsoft's CRM Online offering goes into wide release. Meanwhile, Microsoft is moving into online productivity and collaboration applications through its Online Services push.
One industry observer said the Google-Salesforce deal has clear benefits for both companies.
"The corporate standard [for productivity applications and e-mail] is, of course, Microsoft, but if you look at [Silicon] Valley and the startups, they are using Google Apps because of the collaborative aspects," said Ray Wang, an analyst with Forrester Research. "There are a lot of startups using Salesforce.com, especially here in the Valley."