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Apple iPad Sparks Interest In Enterprise Apps

But work remains before large companies can embrace the iPad and iPhone without worry.

Raven Zachary, president of iPhone development consultancy Small Society, echoes that sentiment. "Just as there was an urgency around Web site development in the '90s, we're seeing the same urgency in mobile apps."

But that urgency hasn't made it to large IT groups. Among indie developers, Zachary says the situation now, where developers have less than two months to get iPad-friendly apps into Apple's iTunes App Store before the iPad becomes available, is similar to the months leading up to the July 2008 opening of the App Store. "There's a similar sense of urgency going on with the iPad," he said. "But we're not seeing it as strongly from the enterprise market."

Despite obvious opportunities for enterprise iPad apps, Zachary says it's premature to expect IT managers to be budgeting for iPad app development.

Nevertheless, he considers enterprise iPad apps to be inevitable due to the new possibilities arising from improved screen real estate. He points to The Omni Group, which has decided to bring its five previously Mac-oriented productivity and visualization apps -- OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, OmniFocus, and OmniGraphSketcher -- to the iPad. These are apps that would not work well on the iPhone due to its lack of screen space.

Forrester Research estimates that most apps take at least six months of full-time work to create, at a cost of between $20,000 and $150,000. While complicated projects can certainly cost more, both Greenman and Leroux suggest that iPhone apps and iPad apps can easily be developed at prices on the low end of that spectrum, or less.

Noting that budgets really depend on the scope of required work, Leroux says that a $15,000 to $20,000 budget is not unreasonable for the sort of applications commissioned by small- and medium-sized businesses. She says her firm has an advantage because it tends to use Corona, an iPhone development framework, to accelerate the development process.

"Corona allows for faster development and therefore allows for a reduced development cycle," she said.

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