Oracle takes on Salesforce

(Reuters) – Oracle Corp said on Tuesday it has created Web-based software designed to help salespeople win more business, its latest attempt to overtake its smaller rival that leads in the field, Inc.

The new programs from the world’s No. 2 publicly held software company adds browser-based technologies and can be customized to run on Research in Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry communications devices and on personalized Google Inc and Yahoo Inc Web pages.

Business users have requested those features because they have gotten comfortable using technology from companies like Google and Yahoo to do Web searches, buy goods over the Internet, get driving directions and handle myriad personal tasks, analysts said.

Now they want access to the same technology at work. The need for traditional software makers to embrace the use of Web-delivered software as a service and make their products look more like snazzy Facebook or Google Web sites was underscored when won one of the biggest sales force automation software deals of 2007. beat out Oracle to provide software to 30,000 employees of Citigroup. also has 25,000 Merrill Lynch & Co Inc subscribers.

“Certainly when you get into the Merrill Lynches of the world, Oracle wants to be there,” said AMR Research analyst Rob Bois.

Other major software makers are also going after’s sweet spot.

Microsoft Corp, the world’s largest software maker, introduced a trial version of CRM Dynamics Live last year and hopes to have the final product ready within a few months.

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