First iPhone compatible enterprise apps announced

CRM and ERP vendors Netsuite and Etelos have begun porting their applications to Apple’s Phone, despite warnings from analysts that the Apple product is not enterprise-ready.

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CRM and ERP vendors Netsuite and Etelos have begun porting their applications to Apple’s Phone, despite warnings from analysts that the Apple product is not enterprise-ready.

Analysts have warned that the iPhone should be kept out of enterprises because it lacks security and is not compatible with business email servers such as Microsoft Exchange.

But software as a service company NetSuite has told users they can start accessing the company's hosted mid-market applications suite via their iPhones.

NetSuite 2007.0, the latest version of the company's software-as-a-service online suite, includes native support for the most recent release of Apple's Safari Web browser, functionality that NetSuite has dubbed SuitePhone, the vendor said. The iPhone, which debuted in the US on 29 June, uses Safari as its Web browser.

Unveiled last month, NetSuite 2007.0 is being rolled out to the vendor's existing customer base and will be available to new users in August.

SuitePhone allows users to log into their NetSuite accounts on their iPhones and access the vendor's hosted ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and electronic-commerce functionality.

Etelos has also made its CRM platform available via the iPhone's Safari web browser, arguing that sales professionals will buy the iPhone themselves and use it at work, even if their employers don't supply the devices. Etelos also said it is close to launching a tool kit that will let developers create applications for the iPhone and sell them through the Etelos store.

"Basically, we've got a real [web] browser on a mobile device. Users in the enterprise have been craving an easier way to develop and deploy their own applications to mobile scenarios," said Etelos CEO Danny Kolke.

Kolke admitted that businesses are unlikely to buy iPhones for employees, given the $599 price-tag. But said he believes users will buy the devices themselves and will want to use them at work.

Etelos' CRM platform previously was available for the BlackBerry, but that device's limited browser made it difficult for salespeople to launch new projects and view the schedules of colleagues, Kolke said.

"This [iPhone] version is full featured," he said. "It pretty much has all the same features as our browser version." Etelos CRM for iPhone uses Asynchronous JavaScript and XML techniques for creating interactive web pages, and includes note-taking, appointment setting, contact management, sales and project management, and group messaging and reporting.

Etelos made its CRM program available in Google Apps in April. Converting the product to the iPhone was not difficult because the screen dimensions are similar to those of Google's Desktop Gadgets, which fill only a portion of a computer monitor, Kolke says.

Etelos CRM for iPhone is available at no additional cost with several versions of its CRM product, available both as a service and for in-house deployments. The software-as-a-service editions cost $12 to $35 per user, per month. A server-side software version goes for a flat rate starting at $2,500.

Any iPhone owner can try out the product for 24 hours at the Etelos iPhone web site.

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