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Is there a way to build a Salesforce App and sell it to the general public without the users needing to be Salesforce users? (Except they'd be users of the app I'm selling.)

Or, I assume the users would still need a standard SF license? If so, how would I price the app to make a profit, per user based on what the base per user license cost is? For example, the cheapest Lightning license (Lightning Platform Starter) is $25 per user per month - and only allows access to 10 custom objects. If I build an app within this limit and want to sell access to the app, it appears I'd have to price it at more than $25 per user per month to make any profit. Is this the only type of option?

If it is, why doesn't Salesforce create a new app development & pricing option that allows apps to be built in Salesforce to be used by users that are not traditional Salesforce users, in fact, they'd have no idea the app was a Salesforce app.

  • You can create an app where a front-end is built using your favorite modern web framework such as React with Salesforce as a backend. Voila! You now have an app where users have no idea that it's a Salesforce app. – identigral Jun 17 at 21:56
  • Broad answer: Yes (see @sfdcfox 's answer below). More detailed answer requires some clarification. You need to consider where in your overall architecture would Salesforce fit in. Is it your backend? frontend? API gateway? Push messages gateway? Full stack solution? You would also need to consider the cost to develop, deploy and maintain the service on Salesforce versus alternatives (e.g. Heroku, owned by Salesforce, maybe easier for some scenarios). – zaitsman Jun 17 at 23:40
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That's conceptually possible using the various OEM licenses. By becoming an OEM, you can sell licenses pretty much at whatever price you want, and salesforce.com will take a slice of the pie (i.e. you will pay salesforce.com a percentage of your license fees, rather than a flat rate). In this manner, you always make some profit regardless of how much your users are paying.

Further, by using some DNS tricks to mask the Salesforce domains, the app can appear to be completely unrelated to Salesforce via branding, customizations, development, and so on. You're not allowed to expose core CRM features (cases, leads, opportunities...), nor allow users to create new objects, etc, but as long as everything is covered by your embedded app contract, the options are basically unlimited.

I don't know of any specific examples of OEM apps out there, since they're not listed on the AppExchange and generally are not advertised as salesforce.com apps, but I do know that they are out there. If you're interested, you might want to contact Partner Support.

Edit: I should mention that they would still actually be salesforce.com users (in the most literal sense), but they simply might not realize that they're users of the platform, and the bills would come from your organization, not salesforce.com. Aside from people who actively go looking to see if a site is running on Salesforce, the average visitor/user might have no idea at all.

  • Thanks for the reply. I read the ISVforce Guide yet I didn't see anything related to the price of the OEM licenses. I know you wrote the OEM can sell licenses at whatever price they want, but I assume the OEM has to pay for the licenses. The OEM User License Comparison document states, "The following licenses are available to new and existing ISV partners: OEM Embedded—A full Lightning Platform license with contractual restrictions." So it sound like the OEM has to pay for a Lightning Platform license - unless I'm reading it wrong. I'll take your advice and contact Partner Support. – H. Kerr Jun 18 at 22:50
  • Also, I'm wondering if there's a way to put the finished app on the Apple store. – H. Kerr Jun 18 at 22:53
  • @H.Kerr Unless something has changed since I've been an OEM partner (via my old employer), it's a percentage cut per license. The OEM Embedded is what you're looking for. Last I heard, the license fees are 25%. And yes, you can use the mobile SDK or build your own app and put it on Android, iOS, etc as you desire. – sfdcfox Jun 19 at 1:13

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