Business Objects SA will introduce a Web-based version of its database marketing software on Monday, the latest company to push into the fast-growing market for applications delivered over the Internet.
The French-American software maker said on Friday that the crystalreports.com product offered as a monthly subscription service would help penetrate the small- and medium-sized business market.
The San Jose, California, and Paris-based company makes software to help companies mine mountains of information stored in databases and use the data to detect marketing trends.
It competes with rivals such as Cognos Inc., Hyperion Solutions Corp. and Microsoft Corp..
Dan Vesset, research director at IDC, said the new product marks the first major push by a business intelligence vendor into Web-delivered software amid growing demand for such tools that many customers find are cheaper and easier to use than traditional applications installed on specific computers.
According to IDC, worldwide spending on Internet-based software stood at $4.2 billion in 2004 and is expected to hit $10.7 billion by 2009. Salesforce.com Inc., a maker of sales and marketing software, is perhaps the best-known supplier in this emerging sector.
"We expect new BI software delivery methods such as this ... offering from Business Objects to be well received by the market," Vesset said in a statement.
The company, which recently moved past the $1 billion revenue mark, already has made its Crystal Reports XI offering available via the Web through AppExchange, the eBay-like marketplace of Salesforce.com.
Companies like Salesforce have enjoyed dramatic growth as more businesses turn to Web-based software for a monthly fee.
This has spurred big software makers like Oracle Corp. and SAP AG of Germany to begin offering their customers applications delivered over the Web.
Business Objects will now offer crystalreports.com as an upgrade or add-on product to current users of Crystal Reports XI who want a Web-based service that makes it easier to distribute and share reports, the company said.
Salesforce customers can access crystalreports.com through the AppExchange.
The software maker will offer its basic Web service product for free beginning on April 10. A premium version priced at $20 per user per month will automatically schedule and share reports with other users. It will be available later this quarter.
Greg Wolfe, general manager of the company's U.S. unit, said crystalreports.com would help the company expand to reach a wider range of customers. He said Business Objects was looking to eventually make all its products available on the Internet.
"If we get the kind of response we think we will we would quite naturally extend the entire platform this way," Wolfe said. "We will have to see what our customers say."