Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) and Toyota Motor Corp. have announced plans to build Toyota Friend, a private social network for Toyota customers and their cars.
Toyota Friend will be powered by Salesforce Chatter, the company's enterprise social network and collaboration service. The service will first be offered in Japan, initially with Toyota's electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles due out in 2012.
Toyota Friend will be a private social network that connects Toyota customers with their cars, their dealership and with Toyota. Toyota Friend will provide a variety of product and service information as well as maintenance tips. For example, if an EV or PHV is running low on battery power, Toyota Friend would notify the driver to recharge in the form of a "tweet"-like alert.
Customers can also choose to extend their communication to family, friends and others through public social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The service will also be accessible through smart phones, tablet PCs and other advanced mobile devices.
Salesforce.com and Toyota will invest roughly $8 million in Toyota Media Service Co., which oversees Toyota's global cloud platform development. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) will invest another $4 million in the project.
Salesforce also announced a number of other investments in Japan this week, including a Tokyo data center scheduled to open in November, further development of the Ruby programming language in collaboration with Ruby creator Yukihiro Matsumoto, and an investment in e-marketing firm Netyear Group Corp., which follows investments in marketing automation firm Synergy Marketing and cloud systems integrator Uhuru.
On Salesforce's earnings conference call last week, CEO Marc Benioff boasted that the company's cloud computing services had 100 percent uptime following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. Salesforce offered its services free of charge for 90 days to private and public organizations offering aid to victims, and the company also raised and donated $1 million for relief efforts.