According to reports over the weekend, Saleforce.com will start allowing uses to access its Apex integration platform and AppExchange applications without buying to its CRM application. The new Salesforce Platform Edition marks a change in strategy away from the company's traditional CRM-centric world view.
Platform Edition is a step towards delivering on the SaaS platform promise, a broad market of enterprise applications that can be linked to each other or to other applications supported by an on-demand application platform, with one company providing the infrastructure, development tools and presentation layer to enable that exchange of data. A move towards Platform-as-a-Service as much as Software-as-a-Service--if there's really a point in drawing the distinction between "platform" and "software".
As an industry development, Platform Edition is exciting because of the way it broadens the appeal of AppExchange beyond the core product. Salesforce has always been as interesting as the underlying CRM application, users who didn't need CRM weren't going to get excited about additional applications since core capability didn't matter. Now as a platform for additional applications, the value of those applications in inherent and not added on top of CRM.
Michael Caton, Collaboration Evangalist, WebEx