SAP AG on Wednesday unveiled a long-delayed line of Web-based software called Business ByDesign that costs $149 per user, per month, and is at the heart of a strategy to accelerate the company's sales growth.
Chief Executive Henning Kagermann devised the line of software for mid-sized businesses as part of a bid to more than double the company's customer base from 42,000 to 100,000 by 2010.
It's the most important announcement I've made in my career, said Kagermann, who has been with SAP for 25 years.
A pared-down version of the product costs $54 per month for all five users.
SAP is the world's No. 1 maker of business management software -- or programs that handle tasks ranging from accounting and payroll to inventory control, call center operations and manufacturing. The company said it expects to invest $418 million to $697 million (300 million to 400 million euros) on the project by the end of 2008.
SAP competes with Oracle Corp, Microsoft Corp, Salesforce.com Inc and privately held NetSuite.
Salesforce and NetSuite deliver their software over the Web, giving customers the ability to use their programs without having to install any programs on their own computers.
They've been growing faster than SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, whose products generally must be installed on the customer's own computers.
We don't want to follow the old business model, Kagermann said.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan in New York, writing by Jim Finkle in Boston)