Salesforce Enters Cloud File-Sharing Market With Chatterbox

Chatterbox is integrated with Chatter for Communities, one of a series of social networking apps for business that Salesforce is rolling at its Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

During a news conference Wednesday, Benioff, when asked about industry rivals, said Salesforce is not aiming to compete with other cloud storage and file-sharing companies, including Dropbox, Box, Microsoft SkyDrive and Google Drive.

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"I don't look at business that way," Benioff said. "It's critical, for example, for platforms to have the type of next-generation file management, which looks a lot like Dropbox, and Google ... and Microsoft with SkyDrive."

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Chatterbox will allow users on the Salesforce platform to share, manage and collaborate in real time with fellow workers on files, with access to mobile devices.

The application will be available in the first half of 2013. At Dreamforce, Virgin America CEO David Cush outlined the airline's plans to add seatback touchscreens using Chatter with Chatterbox, which will allow users access information through the Salesforce platform.

Salesforce has also demonstrated how sales teams can collaborate in real time and share documents to close sales.

Although Chatterbox is not in competition with other vendors, it offers special advantages, said Doug Bewsher, senior vice president of marketing for Salesforce Chatter.

"Because it's built on the Salesforce platform, people know it can be trusted, and because it's built into Chatterbox, people know we spent a lot of time thinking about the enterprise and the best way to make it work. The others say, 'Here's a file, go figure out how to use that.' With Chatterbox, you don't have to create your own social layer to use it."

One analyst said the Chatterbox appears to add real value to sales and marketing teams that can quickly drive projects with information from shared documents. But, it remains to be seen how Chatterbox and other cloud-based file-sharing companies will fare.

"Salesforce Chatterbox might be the best fit for sales and marketing, but it might not be best for general file sharing," said Greg Schultz, founder of StorageIO Group, in Stillwater, Minn.