Social CRM on the Cheap

Mac (s aapl) users are missing out on cheap (read: free), social customer relationship management. Windows users have xobni, a simple tool that integrates with Outlook, and Microsoft (s msft) will also be releasing a solution in Office 2010 called Outlook Social Connector. But what if you have a Mac? Xobni doesn’t support Entourage or, and who knows when Entourage will receive features its cousin on Windows has.

Now there’s a solution for the Mac: Rapportive. It takes over the advertisements area in Gmail, and provides basic information about your email correspondents: occupation, Twitter/Flickr/LinkedIn links, age, location and custom notes. Yes, it supports Google (s goog) Apps accounts, and the preview version of Mailplane now has an option to view Rapportive data. The experience definitely feels like a beta, with occasional inaccurate or missing information, but it’s great having so much additional context inside my email.

The problem? Rapportive so far only works in Google Chrome and Firefox as an extension. Safari is missing out since it doesn’t support simple extension development. Now that Chrome has overtaken Safari in market share, Apple needs to step up its game in terms of features. Both Safari and need extension support to integrate all of these new social products. I am aware that some important extensions like Evernote and 1Password exist for Safari, but there is no official Apple documentation or support on how to build extensions. This needs to change. Unfortunately for Apple, Google and Mozilla already have thousands of extensions available.